Sapphire Industry Watch – February 20

  • Glasshouse LEDs save greenhouse gasses – Electronics Weekly: As artificial lighting is increasingly used to extend the growing day and growing season inside greenhouses, UK plant researchers are looking into using LED lights to grow plants with less energy. While it is not necessarily the effectiveness of LEDs that is the advantage to growing plans indoors, the ability to save power by only delivering wavelengths useful to plants is highly effective for managing the growth process.
  • LED revolution unfolds in Guntur – The Hindu: Since the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) was launched in October, residents and businesses in the Anantpur, Guntur, Srikakulam and West Godavari districts have begun making the switch from incandescent light bulbs over to LEDs as part of a nationwide effort to conserve energy and money. In a span of just three months, DELP has already covered more than 80 percent of consumers in the district.
  • Rubicon’s Q4 Revenue Up 11 Percent on Q3 – Compound Semiconductor: Last week, Rubicon Technology reported financial results for its fourth quarter, which ended on December 31, 2014. The company reporter Q4 revenue of $8.9 million, an 11 percent increase from the previous quarter. Demand for the company’s two-inch sapphire cores increased considerably in the period.
  • LED lights to save $50K annually for Bridge Authority – Poughkeepsie Journal: The New York State Bridge Authority has announced a new project to improve lighting around the Mid-Hudson Bridge through the installation of LED lights. The project, which will generate more than $53,000 in annual savings, calls for the installation of 174 LED lights. The project will cost $57,069 and include 120 street lights, 22 high mast lights and 32 tower lights.

The LED Revolution: Bringing Light to a Country Near You

Nowadays, LEDs are ubiquitous. Whether we’re talking about a football stadium, a street light, or nightlight, LEDs are used virtually anywhere lighting is needed.

What most people don’t know is that LEDs are also at the forefront of an “illumination revolution” in developing countries throughout the world.

While we live in a technologically driven society, we may not realize that access to safe and reliable electricity remains one of the key challengers plaguing more than 1.5 billion people in developing countries around the world.

Where do LEDs fit in?

According to International Finance Corporation, 2.1 million LED-solar products have been sold in countries that lack access to electrical grids.

In Africa — A growing portion of the more than 1 billion people living without reliable sources of electricity now have access to lights, thanks in part to LED technology. Nearly 5 percent of Africans without access to electricity — or some 28.5 million people — now use solar-powered LED lights.


A women in Senegal charges her cellphone using a port in her solar-powered LED lantern.

In IndiaPollinate Energy has one simple mission: improve the lives of India’s urban poor by providing access to sustainable technologies, including solar lights and improved stoves for cooking.

With the help of LEDs and kerosene-free cooking equipment, local Indian communities can save money, experience reduced indoor smoke and enjoy better lights in homes and businesses.

Pollinate has already helped more than 25,000 people in Bangalore switch to solar LED lighting in their homes.

So how are LEDs changing the equation?

Eight to 10 years ago, the high cost of LEDs made them unrealistic for use in applications like this. But the efficiency of LEDs is rising, and prices are dropping, finally allowing LEDs to become a viable option.

The shift is taking place thanks to sapphire — the foundation for more than 95 percent of high brightness white LEDs. Large diameter sapphire wafers and patterned sapphire substrates contribute to greater efficiency and lower costs for LED lighting.

Sapphire Industry Watch – February 13

  • Rubicon Technology produces large-area sapphire windows – Aerospace Manufacturing and Design: Rubicon Technology has successfully produced the first synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, meeting a key milestone in its Large-Area Net-Shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE) project. At 36″ x 18″ x 2″, this piece of sapphire will serve the demanding needs of defense applications, along with future commercial and industrial applications.
  • Madrid’s LED bulbs are street lights ahead of the world (VIDEO) – Malay Mail Online: In an effort to reduce energy consumption, Madrid plans to replace 225,000 traditional street light bulbs with LEDs. The switch is expected to save the city 36 percent of annual energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of that generated by 100,000 vehicles in one year.
  • Jefferson scientist’s study of SAD took him to space and back – Lack of light is scientifically proven to be one of the most depressing things about winter. Neuroscientist George Brainard has been testing the biological impact of light and its connection with those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). His studies have led him to predict that LED lights will soon displace all other forms of lighting because they offer more flexibility in brightness and color, improving overall health and well-being.
  • Making City Streets Smarter, More Efficient – Lighting and software engineers are working on a new breed of LED street lights that contain sensors with the ability to gather traffic data. The traffic data collected could help ease congestion and help drivers avoid busy roads and intersections. These LEDs are building off of existing technologies that have the ability to dim outdoor lights when no one is around.

Rubicon Technology Develops World’s Largest Sapphire Crystal

In August 2012, Rubicon Technology announced a ground-breaking project to produce large-area sapphire windows of optical quality for military sensing applications. Dubbed Large-Area Net-shape Crystal Extraction (LANCE), the project was supported by a contract from the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Electronic & Sensors Branch, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, totaling $4.7 million over three years.

Fast forward to today.

Rubicon announced it has reached a key project milestone — successfully producing the first-ever synthetic sapphire crystal of its size and thickness, coming in at an incredible 36 x 18 x 2 inches.

Sapphire Slab

Previous sapphire production methods were incapable of supporting the growth of quality sapphire at the size and thickness needed by the AFRL, so Rubicon developed a new growth platform to achieve the production of very large sapphire windows up to 2 inches thick. The process of creating sapphire of this size was incredibly complex and time-intensive, but Rubicon was determined to deliver a product unlike anything the market had ever seen before.

The military and other high-performance Industries desire sapphire at this size due to a variety of its qualities, including:

  • Strength
  • Optical clarity in the visible and infrared spectra
  • Hardness
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Thermal conductivity

Once thoroughly tested, the sapphire slab produced by Rubicon will be evaluated for use as infrared windows in extreme environments, such as space or the deep sea, where both durability and optical clarity are essential.  The potential uses are almost limitless.  Large-format sapphire will serve demanding applications in defense along with future commercial and industrial applications.

While the project is not yet complete, this is an encouraging breakthrough.

For more information on the LANCE project, visit

Case number 88ABW-2015-0182

Sapphire Industry Watch – February 6

  • S.F. replacing old streetlights with cheaper, better LED bulbs – SF Gate: As part of an $11 million upgrade program, San Francisco is beginning to replace 18,500 old high-pressure sodium street lights with new LED lights. The LEDs will not only improve lighting and reduce maintenance costs, but also move “the innovation capital of the world” into a “smart” electrical grid.
  • Canada dims the light on the incandescent light bulb – The Globe and Mail: As of January 1, 2015, 60- and 40-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured or imported into Canada. The decision was made by the federal government in an effort to cut energy consumption and encourage Canadians to switch to LEDs. The ban is an extension of the ban on 75- and 100-watt bulbs that came into effect in 2014.
  • Rubicon Technology Appoints Hap Hewes as Senior Vice President, Optical – Yahoo! Finance: Rubicon Technology announced the appointment of Hap Hewes as Senior Vice President, Optical. He will lead marketing and business development activity for sapphire products in the aerospace, optical, consumer electronics and industrial markets. After departing from Rubicon in 2009, Hewes has returned to the company to bring this wide range of exciting new products to market and to lead the company’s traditional optical components business.
  • LED system will set the mood inside new Vikings stadium – Star Tribune: The new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Minneapolis will be the first football stadium in the United States to install LED lighting during initial construction. The new lights are projected to consume 75 percent less energy than traditional lighting and Vikings officials say they have kept an environmentally friendly focus during the project’s planning and construction phases.

The LED Light Painter

When you picture LED light bulbs, do your thoughts initially jump to how efficient, durable and cost-effective they are? After all, they represent the most recent advancement in the evolution of the light bulb.

But beyond their innovative qualities, do you ever stop to consider LEDs as beautiful, colorful or even artistic?

Photographer Patrick Rochon certainly does. Over the past few years, he has taken eye-catching photographs involving LED lights, long exposures and flash, making his stills appear as though he painted them with light. Rochon’s most recent work, Inspired Light, was done in collaboration with Infiniti Motors in Dubai and features SUVs with approximately 60 feet of LED strips carefully fixed onto them.

CarPhoto credit: Patrick Rochon

The images, which take weeks of planning and measuring to set up, are not digitally manipulated in any way. Instead, Rochon uses different exposure times and settings to create a single image. For this shoot, it took four experienced technicians four hours to prepare each vehicle.


Photo credit: Patrick Rochon 

Rochon began establishing his reputation as a light painter back in 2013 when he collaborated with RedBull and Snap! Orlando to photograph wakeboarders that were wearing LEDs in the dark. Through the use of LEDs and long exposures, he was able to capture the fluid motion of the wakeboarders as they moved around a lake.


Photo credit: Patrick Rochon 

This collaboration successfully mixed sports and technology together to capture the beauty and fluidity of athleticism in a way that had never been done before.

For a closer look at how the innovative project came to life, check out the behind-the-scenes video below.

As Rochon continues to push the boundaries of photography, we look forward to seeing more of his beautiful LED projects.

Sapphire Industry Watch – January 30

  • Public servants to take power to India’s slums in international move – Canberra Times: Pollinate Energy is a social enterprise with a mission to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by providing access to sustainable technologies like solar energy and LED lights. Co-founded in 2012 by a Canberra woman, the organization has already helped more than 25,000 people in Bangalore switch to solar LED lighting in their homes.
  • The First Super Bowl Played Under LEDs will use 75 Percent Less Power– Gizmodo: Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona will be the first Super Bowl played entirely under LED lights. The switch from metal halide fixtures to high-performance LED lights will reduce overall energy consumption by 75 percent.
  • LEDs cast new light on auto design – The Detroit News: As the price of LEDs continues to decline, the technology is becoming standard on many headlamps and taillights of mainstream vehicles. Once found only on luxury vehicles, nearly all of the models showcased at the 2015 North American International Auto Show incorporated LED lighting.
  • Rubicon Technology Will Report Results of Fourth Quarter Operations on February 12, 2015 – MarketWatch: Rubicon Technology will report financial results for the fourth quarter, which ended on December 31, 2014, after the market closes on February 12, 2015. Management will host a conference call at 5:00 p.m. EST on February 12 in conjunction with the earnings release to review the financial results and an audio replay of the call will be available approximately one hour after the conclusion of the call.