Benefits of LED Lighting for Cows and Bees

CowsMany industries are looking at using LEDs, but researchers may have found some unexpected benefits of LED lighting for cows and bees.

Iowa Farmer Today reported that dairy cows produce more milk with LED lighting.  While it is still early, a 2010 Oklahoma State study comparing LED lighting to traditional light in dairies resulted in a 6% bump in milk production for the cows exposed to LED lighting.

The experiment compared a 500-cow free-stall barn outfitted with LEDs on one side and traditional metal halide lighting on the other.  Researchers found that cows responded positively to LED light with increased milk production.  Researchers observed that the directional light from LEDs provided the cows with a boost in feed intake.  The researchers don’t know if the increase in milk production is from the feed intake itself, or a possible increase in hormones that promote milk production. In order to prove that LED light increases milk production researchers will need to study further.  They’ll need to determine the effects of increased light, intensity and other variables as well as replicate the study at different facilities.

Pollination by bees is a necessary part of growing flowers and crops.  But bumble bees suffer from poor vision and sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light. In fact, northern climates have shorter growing seasons in part due to the lack of available natural light for pollinator bumble bees.  Use of artificial light sources in horticulture has been an issue due to the bumble bee’s limited vision under UVB, blue and green light.  Finding an artificial light source that works with pollinator bees will help horticulture in areas with limited natural light.

LED grow-light manufacturer Valoya demonstrated the functionality of their lights in a tomato trial at PlantResearch in Made, Netherlands.  The company compared pollinator bee activity in two compartments: one with LED lighting and another with only natural light. The bees in the LED compartment started flying out to flowers immediately when the AP67-LED lights were turned on.  The bees in compartments with high pressure sodium lights on (and an open hatch) only started to move 4 hours later when some natural light became available through the open hatch.  More study is needed, but LED-grow lights may prove effective to increase pollination time in areas with limited amounts of natural light.

For Further Reading

Iowa Farmer Today, Milking lighting to boost production, http://www.iowafarmertoday.com/news/dairy/milking-lighting-to-boost-production/article_4b824b94-028a-11e2-8a2d-001a4bcf887a.html

Valoya Press Release, Valoya’s Horticultural LED Lights Enable Pollinator Bees to Operate without Natural Light, http://www.valoya.com/document-repository/press-releases/document/valoyas-horticultural-led-lights-enable-pollinator-bees-to-operate-without-natural-light?format=raw

LEDs Magazine, Valoya claims additional benefits for LEDs in horticulture, bees like SSL, http://ledsmagazine.com/news/10/6/13

Made in America – Sapphire for the High Growth LED Market

While Google made a splash recently about making the Nexus Q media player in the US, companies all over the US are making key contributions of the economy by manufacturing in America.  One of the key building blocks for LEDs is sapphire.  Much like silicon is used for computer chips, sapphire is the foundation for an LED chip.  Illinois-based Rubicon Technology is one of the world’s leading producers of sapphire ingots, blanks, polished substrates and windows. With more than 80% of the world’s LEDs based on sapphire, Rubicon makes a very important contribution to the market right here in the US.

Rubicon grows large sapphire crystals in sapphire furnaces in its Franklin Park, Batavia and Bensenville, Illinois-crystal growth facilities.  The company makes very large sapphire crystals – bulk crystal ranging in size from 30 kg to 85 kg to 200 kg – that are cored and shipped to a Rubicon finishing facility in Malaysia or to directly to finishing customers throughout Asia to make sapphire wafers that and then made into millions of little LED chips.  These LED chips are found in everything from smartphones, laptops and tablets, HDTVs, big ad displays, street lights, commercial lighting and even new LED light bulbs.

Why manufacture the sapphire crystals in the US?  According to Rubicon, the crystal growth process is a high precision process that uses energy that must be kept constant. Any deviation in the power during the crystal growth process can lead to imperfections in a crystal rendering that crystal unusable.

Based on a decade of Rubicon company experience and decades of semiconductor expertise, Rubicon has custom-built next-generation crystal growth furnaces for their US plants. Rubicon’s innovations have resulted in industry-leading large-diameter sapphire wafers – six inches or more in size versus the commonly made two, three and four inch wafers – that help bring LED chip manufacturers cost efficiencies they can’t achieve with smaller wafers.  To date, Rubicon has shipped 230,000 large diameter wafers.

“No other country in the world has reliable, low cost utilities like the US,” said William Weissman, CFO for Rubicon.  “We specifically have designed our crystal growth facilities around reliable resources for power and water.  The location in the US also allows us to protect our intellectual property inherent in our furnaces and processes in a way that cannot be maintained outside of the country.”

Emerging Markets for Sapphire, Part 1 — SoS

SoS improves performance and integration for RF circuits found in smart phones.

While LED is the largest market for sapphire, there are several other emerging markets that take advantage of the physical attributes of sapphire.  We’ll take a look at these emerging markets over the next month or so.   We will begin with Silicon on Sapphire (SoS) for the RFIC market.

SoS is a part of the Silicon on Insulator (SOI) family of CMOS (Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) technology for making integrated circuits.  SoS improves performance and integration for RF circuits.  The holy grail of the wireless industry has been finding a better way to optimize power consumption and real estate utilization in mobile phones.  One application for SoS technology is the production of RF chips used in the antenna switch in smart phones.  These SoS chips are significantly smaller and use less power than chips traditionally used for this application.  As a result, chips produced using SoS technology are rapidly gaining market share in the mobile phone industry.

Peregrine Semiconductor is a pioneer in SoS and holds much of the industry’s IP in SoS.  In an interview with EE Times in 2011, Dr. Ronald E. Reedy, Peregrine co-founder said, “SoS is the first and most successful form of SOI focused entirely on improving performance and integration for RF circuits. We saw the emerging need for such a technology when commercial wireless communications started taking off in the early 1990s.”

What makes sapphire so good for SoS? Peregrine summarized it in a paper on the history on SoS. Sapphire and silicon have a unique way of lining up together at an atomic level because of oxygen atoms.  The scientific explanation is that the r-plane of sapphire has oxygen atoms spaced at a distance that is close to the spacing of the atoms in the (100) plane of a silicon crystal.  The spacing delivers unique insulating properties when the silicon is layered on top of the sapphire wafer.  This was discovered by researchers at Boeing in 1963.  Researchers at RCA continued the development of SoS technology into the mid-1970s and continue to process them for space applications.

Technological barriers leading to defects held SoS back from commercial applications until just recently.  Peregrine has been able to overcome these hurdles at just the right time as the wireless industry needs the insulating and power saving benefits of SoS for the latest generations of smart phones.  You’ll find more coverage of the emerging market in posts to come.

For Further Reading:

Electronics Weekly, Peregrine: Single chip phone RF is possible http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articles/14/02/2012/52966/peregrine-single-chip-phone-rf-is-possible.htm

EE Times, What’s up with silicon on sapphire?, http://www.eetimes.com/design/microwave-rf-design/4216449/What-s-up-with-silicon-on-sapphire-

Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation, The History of Silicon on Sapphire, www.psemi.com/articles/History_SOS_73-0020-02.pdf

Clearlysapphire.com, http://www.clearlysapphire.com/SoS_RFIC.html