Cities Worldwide Tap LEDs to Make Skylines Sparkle

The world’s skylines are changing. They’re no longer bathed in white light or neon. Thanks to new programmable LEDs, today’s city skylines are transformed into rainbows of light promoting good causes, events and company brands in every color imaginable that can change nightly.

But first let’s take a look at how lighting in cities got its start. Skylines and exhibitions played an early role in promoting lighting. Perhaps one of the most notable points in the history of lighting is the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 set the stage for promoting the wonder of electric lighting. In fact it was a big part in the race to light the world between Westinghouse backing Nicola Tesla (inventor of alternating current) and General Electric, owned by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulbs and direct current).

Westinghouse outbid Edison for the contract to light and power the fair. More than 200,000 white incandescent bulbs, using Tesla’s polyphase alternating current system, amazed crowds as they lit up the world’s fair at night. How did they beat out Edison? They under-bid Edison and GE banned them from using Edison light bulbs in retaliation for losing the bid. To light the fair, Westinghouse and Tesla sidestepped Edison’s light bulb patents with a new double stopper light bulb.

Here’s a photo from the Chicago World’s Fair at night. Just imagine how impressive this display of light must have been to a population used to gas lights and candles.

Chicago World's Fair 1893

Chicago World’s Fair 1893

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to today. LED lighting systems have given rise to a whole new look to a city skyline. Here are a few of the more colorful city skylines bathed in LED lighting.

New York, New York

New York City Skyline

New York City Skyline

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline

Chicago, IL

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline bathed in pink for Breast Cancer Month

Dubai

Dubai Skyline

Dubai Skyline

For Further Reading

NY Post, City’s towers in LED arms race to get brightest spot in skyline, http://nypost.com/2014/03/23/citys-towers-in-led-arms-race-to-get-brightest-spot-in-skyline/

City Lab, How LEDs Have Transformed the City Skyline, http://www.citylab.com/design/2013/07/how-leds-have-transformed-city-skyline/6382/

NY Post, High-tech LEDs turning NYC skyline into a lightshow, http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/high-tech-leds-turning-nyc-skyline-into-a-lightshow/

 

Urban Farming Goes Vertical with LEDs

Green Sense Farms vertical LED farm warehouse

Green Sense Farms vertical LED farm warehouse

We like to report on interesting applications using LEDs. This latest application we are focusing on takes LEDs and combines them with farming to leverage unique properties – temperature and wavelenghths —  of LEDs to grow more, better plants, indoors without the use of pesticides.

Chicago’s Green Sense Farms takes advantage of LEDs to make the largest indoor commercial vertical farm in the United States. According to a report in Gizmodo, Green Sense Farms recently announced two new huge climate-controlled grow rooms in its Chicago-area production warehouse. Green Sense Farms combines towering racks of vertical hydroponic systems with Philips “light recipe” LED grow lights.

Philips is building a database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties since each plant has its own needs for light. A Philips Horticulture “light recipe” is an instruction based on knowledge of how to use light to grow a certain crop under certain conditions. Because LEDs produce less heat than traditional lighting, the light fixtures can be placed much closer to the crops without fear of burning them— reducing the vertical farm’s footprint and ensuring that each leaf gets the light it needs.

Using the system, Green Sense Farms is able to harvest its crops 26 times a year while using 85 percent less energy, 1/10th the amount of water, no pesticides or herbicides, and reducing the facility’s CO2 output by two tons a month. And, to make the Earth a better place, it even produces an average of 46 pounds of oxygen daily.

For Further Reading

Gizmodo, Chicago’s Huge Vertical Farm Glows Under Countless LED Suns, http://gizmodo.com/chicagos-huge-vertical-farm-farm-glows-under-countless-1575275486

Substrate Update: It’s All About Patterning & Large Diameter Wafers

yole_developpement_logoMarket research firm Yole Developpement recently published a new report on front-end manufacturing trends for LEDs. Their latest report gives us some very good news about the sapphire market. Semiconductor Today reported on Yole’s analysis. Here are some big take-aways:

  • There is increased demand for larger-diameter sapphire wafers, with big players (such as LG, Sharp or Osram) moving to 6” wafers and Taiwanese players moving to 4” wafers.
  • LED chip makers demand more patterned sapphire substrates (PSS). PSS are now mainstream in the market with an 87% share as of Q1 2014.
  • While some companies (such as Soraa and Toshiba) have begun mass production of gallium nitride-on-silicon (GaN-on-Si) and GaN-on-GaN LEDs, market penetration of these alternative substrates will depend on future improvements in terms of performance and cost.  Without these improvements, alternative substrates will not be able to fully compete with sapphire-based LEDs.

What does this mean for sapphire makers? LED chip manufacturers are looking to gain production efficiencies, lower costs, and increase performance for their LEDs.  As the adoption for LED lighting increases, they need to make more and better performing LEDs. Large diameter sapphire wafers enable more throughput for each run of the MOCVD reactor, making better use of the reactor “real estate” and decreasing the cost per unit of area processed. Depending on the type of MOCVD reactor used, LED chip manufacturers using six-inch wafer platforms may achieve up to 48% greater usable area per reactor run as compared to two-inch wafers.

What does PSS offer? First, PSS helps improve epitaxial growth by promoting growth of the GaN in parallel to the substrate surface. This helps reduce the number of dislocations, called the dislocation density, which can degrade performance of an LED.  Secondly, patterning can help extract as much as 30 percent more light from an LED.  This is particularly advantageous for high brightness LEDs (HB LEDs) that are used in LED lighting applications.

LED chip manufacturers have been buying smaller 2-inch and 4-inch PSS from outside suppliers for years.  The next step in the evolution in the market is the migration to large diameter PSS. Already a pioneer in the development of large diameter sapphire substrates, Rubicon Technology has developed capabilities for large diameter PSS making it possible to manufacture 6-inch and even 8-inch PSS. Rubicon is already gaining traction in the PSS market.  The company recently reported in their Q1 2014 earnings call that they received their first order for PSS and have samples out to more than a dozen LED chip manufacturers.

For more information about the report from Yole, visit http://www.i-micronews.com/reports/LED-Front-End-Manufacturing-Trends-report/14/433

For Further Reading

Semiconductor Today, Substrates shaping trends in LED front-end manufacturing, http://www.semiconductor-today.com/news_items/2014/APR/YOLE_300414.shtml

Clearlysapphire.com, Larger Wafers, Larger Yield – The Numbers Behind Large Diameter Sapphire Wafers and Yield, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=435

Clearlysapphire.com, Large Diameter Patterned Sapphire Substrates Explained, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=582

Clearlysapphire.com, Sapphire Substrates for LED: The Big Move Toward 6″ Has Already Started, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=37

Have LED Light Bulb Questions? Infographics & Such to “Enlighten”

Angie's List Infographic - LEDs

Angie’s List Infographic – LEDs

A lot of companies are participating in the new LED light bulb market, also called Solid State Lighting or SSL. These companies can be LED light bulb makers or participate by making some component of the LED light bulb ranging from heat sinks and LED chips to the sapphire growers, polishers and fabricators that make the foundation of the LED, the sapphire chip. All of them have a vested interest in helping consumers understand LED light bulbs and why they are different from CFLs and traditional incandescent light bulbs. We’ve gathered together some resources to help consumers understand their lighting options.

The US Department of Energy is leading the effort to educate consumers about their new lighting options and have enlisted companies that participate in the LED lighting market to help. The DOE has developed some very good resources on their own web site for the industry, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/. But they’ve also developed resources for consumers to learn more about their lighting choices. Some sample resources for consumers to learn more about LED lighting include a good FAQ here, http://energy.gov/articles/askenergysaver-led-lights.

The Federal Trade Commission requires a new lighting label, Lighting Facts, on all light bulb packages to help consumers understand what they’re buying. Optical and lighting publication Novus Light Today wrote about these new labeling requirements featuring an infographic from light bulb manufacturer Cree.

Cree, Lighting Facts Infographic

Cree, Lighting Facts Infographic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these companies as well as consumer groups are producing infographics to help the consumer learn more. Here’s a round-up of links to additional resources for learning more about LEDs.

Angie’s List, Infographic: What’s in a light bulb?,

http://www.angieslist.com/articles/infographic-whats-light-bulb.htm

The information in the Angie’s List infographic is great, except for the pricing. LED light bulbs have gone down quite a bit in price with some at retailers in the US coming in at just under $10 and a few others cost less and are even more affordable when combined with rebates and other special offers.

Philips, The LED Lighting Revolution, http://community.lighting.philips.com/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/102-1201-34-4943/Infographic_LED+Revolution_Philips+2012.png

Light bulb vendor Philips compiled a nice all around look at the energy-saving benefits of LED light bulbs and translates them into benefits for the environment and life.

Lumican, Can LED lighting really save energy and money?, http://lumican.com/portfolio-items/can-led-lighting-really-save-energy-and-money/

Canadian lighting solutions provider Lumican highlights US Department of Energy statistics and compares energy usage and savings of LED, halogen, CFL and traditional light bulbs.

LiveScience, NRDC Guide to Light Bulbs, http://www.livescience.com/42509-goodbye-to-old-lightbulbs.html

The NRDC does a great job at comparing LED light bulbs to CFLs and traditional incandescent light bulbs and gives a good explanation at the new light bulb packaging required by the US government.

We’ve also covered LEDs vs. CFLs on the Clearlysapphire blog. You can read them, here:

Clearlysapphire.com, Incandescent Extinction – Which light bulb will win? LED vs. CFL? http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=601

Clearlysapphire.com, Confused about Your Home Lighting? – LED, CFL and Incandescent Compared, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=492

Clearlysapphire.com, Tipping Point 2: Finally, A Sub $10 LED Light Bulb, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=371

Clearlysapphire.com, Tipping Point: Earth Day, 100W Light Bulb Reprieve and Alexander Hamilton, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=169