Rubicon Develops New Sapphire Growth Platform to Make Large Optical Windows

Sapphire Windows in Lockheed Martin f-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter

Sapphire Windows in Lockheed Martin f-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter

There are a lot of ways to make large commercial sapphire crystals.  But none of them really work for making large sapphire windows using sapphire’s a-plane. We mean really wide so that they can be used in a military plane as a targeting system window.  So, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) asked Rubicon Technology to develop a new growth platform for very large polished sapphire infrared (IR) windows.  The project is supported by a grant from the AFRL, with a total value of $4.7 million over three years.

Sapphire is perfect for military and other high-performance applications due to its hardness and strength, transparency in the visible and IR spectrum, thermal conductivity, thermal shock resistance, abrasion resistance, high melting point and chemical inertness.  The project will begin with intermediate sizes, then will step it up to windows as large as 36 x 18 x 0.8 inches.

Why do we need this new method?  Existing methods used to produce sapphire windows don’t meet the demands of military applications for thickness and size.  Rubicon’s new technological platform will grow panels approximately two inches thick, which can be cut into multiple windows of varying thickness.  The new method also allows growth of very large windows up to 36 x 18 inches. This is an improvement over smaller faceted windows that require piecing together for large applications.

The sapphire windows for the AFRL will be applied to fighter jet targeting systems. For example, the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lighting Joint Strike Fighter’s fuselage has a durable sapphire window in the fuselage for use by the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS).  The sapphire is preferred due to its durability, hardness and strength and the way it allows transmission light in the IR spectrum.

Links:

Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, http://airsoc.com/articles/view/id/4fe4b7f8c6f8fa2443000009/lockheed-martin-f-35-lightning-ii-joint-strike-fighter

Clearlysapphire.com. http://www.clearlysapphire.com/Optical__Lasers_Windows_.html

Rubicon Technology, http://rubicon-es2.com/index.php?page_id=23

LEDs Light Up Hollywood and Beyond

 

Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, Orlando, Florida

LEDs are taking the entertainment world by storm.  Famous entertainment venues are using LEDs for their ability to save energy, but more importantly for its entertainment value.  The ability to control LED displays using computers delivers instant value with virtually unlimited possibilities for lighting, image design and video display.  Here is a quick round-up of some notable uses of LEDs in entertainment.

America’s Got Talent – 4 million individual LEDs light up NBC’s America’s Got Talent stage.

Cinderella’s Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom — 16.7 million LED lighting fixtures light up Cinderella’s Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida at night.  During the Holidays, 200,000 LED lights do a special light show.

Fremont Street Experience – The Las Vegas Fremont Street Show attraction, with more than 25,000 visitors each year, features a mix of vintage Las Vegas and live entertainment surrounded by the latest in high technology.  The Viva Vision canopy and light show includes more than 12 million LED modules and 555,000-watt sound system for visiting acts like Brett Michaels, Survivor and other rock bands.  The Viva Vision screen contains 12.5 million synchronized LED lamps, including 180 strobes and eight robotic mirrors per block. Viva Vision can display 16.7 million color combinations in making up one of the world’s largest screens to display six-minute videos.

New York’s Broadway – Known as the “Great White Way” for the way the famed New York City theater district was originally lit with white lights, Broadway has now converted to LED and CFL bulbs.  38 Broadway theaters converted to LED and CFL bulbs on their marquees, saving 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year according to the Broadway Green Alliance.  D3 LED, LLC, recently completed the first state-of-the-art LED display marquee and digital media system in Broadway theatre history for New Amsterdam Theatre.  D3 is also working on several high-profile marquee display projects including the Apollo Theatre, Times Square Visitors Center (formerly Embassy Theatre), and School of Visual Arts Theatre (formerly Chelsea West Cinemas) in New York City.

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.”

Study Finds LED Street Lights Generate 85% Energy Savings

Energy savings is one of the major arguments in favor of using LEDs for lighting applications including street lights. The people connected with LightSavers conducted a study based on a rather impressive two-and-a-half-year global pilot of LED street lamps in 15 separate trials across 12 cities around the globe including New York, London, Kolkata, India and Sydney, Australia. The study concluded that LED street lighting can generate energy savings as high as 85%. That’s a fairly impressive number.

The LightSaver trial concluded that LEDs are now mature enough for scale-up in most outdoor applications as well as bring the economical and social benefits to the masses. The report explored the global market status and potential for LED technology and provides guidelines for policymakers and city light managers who want to scale-up and finance large LED retrofits.

Some specific study findings directly relating to lighting include:

• Surveys in Kolkata, London, Sydney and Toronto indicated that citizens prefer LED lighting, with 68% to 90% of respondents endorsing city-wide rollout of the technology.

• LED lighting was found to be a durable technology with the need for minimal repairs; the failure rate of LED products over 6,000 hours is around 1%, compared, for example, to around 10% for conventional lighting over a similar time period.

You can see a video about the Kolkata trial  here:

The findings of LightSavers are presented for the first time in the new report, Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities: www.TheCleanRevolution.org. The results of the study were distributed via press release from Royal Philips Electronics. The report was produced by The Climate Group in partnership with Philips in support of the campaign’s argument that major energy savings can be achieved virtually overnight at relatively little cost.

Additional Facts:

• Lighting is responsible for 19% of global electricity use and around 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions1.

• Doubling lighting efficiency globally would have a climate impact equivalent to eliminating half the emissions of all electricity and heat production in the EU2.

• In the United States alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40% would save US$53 billion in annual energy costs, and reduce energy demand equivalent to 198 mid-size power stations3.

References:

1 IEA (2006) Light’s Labour’s Lost, OECD/IEA

2 ‘Homes’ includes CO2 emissions from residential use of gas and electricity. Figures from: IEA, 2011, CO2 emissions from fuel combustion: Highlights.

3 Power stations at 2 TWh of generation each year. Data from Philips Market Intelligence and IEA: Philips (2011) ‘The LED lighting revolution: A summary of the global energy savings potential’, based on IEA analysis.