Sapphire Industry Watch – May 29

  • Data Transmission with LED Light to Be Possible – Business Korea:  A Korean research team from The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute has successfully developed visible light communication networking technology capable of delivering information through LED lights. This technique – which could begin the lighting communications era – allows people to receive information through network transmission devices by storing and sending digital information when LED lights blink.
  • New LED lights shine on bridge to Belle Isle – Detroit Free Press: Arriving just in time for Detroit’s Grand Prix racing weekend, more than 300 new LED light bulbs have been installed across the MacArthur Bridge on Belle Isle. As part of a ceremony to celebrate the bridge’s new lights, a bright red Grand Prix pace car drove across the bridge while the white LEDs were switched on. Lighting costs for the bridge are expected to drop to a third of what they were prior to the LEDs.
  • This is why we should be farming in skyscrapers – CityMetric: Futurists have been dreaming of ways to feed Earth’s growing population for decades, but thanks to new technology, there might finally be a solution. By utilizing LED lighting and indoor growing methods, vertical farming could be the way of the future by providing food to cities while also helping save ecosystems around the world from being converted to farmland.
  • Supermarket LED lights talk to smartphone app – BBC News: French supermarket chain Carrefour is the first retailer to install a new LED system capable of sending special offers and location data directly to shoppers’ smartphones. Codes are transmitted to phone cameras via light waves that are undetectable to the human eye, enabling shoppers to quickly receive information on promotions going on around them.

Forget Playing Under the Lights, LEDs Let You Play on Top of Them

You would think that there is little in the world of basketball that could leave Kobe Bryant speechless. The Mamba has seen his fair share of amazing plays, arenas and players, so it would be safe to say that much on the basketball court doesn’t impress him.

That all changed when he caught a glimpse of the new LED basketball court at the “House of Mamba” in Shanghai.

The court — created by Nike — has LEDs and sensors built into the floor that allow for it to change its display, markings and images almost instantly. While it can display a classic basketball court layout, the real value for the court comes from the fact that it can be programmed to show a variety of training drills and exercises. Athletes can follow lights and lines to practice footwork drills, all while the sensors in the floor track their time and progress, and then display the players’ time.

The “House of Mamba” was built as a part of Nike’s Rise campaign, a competition to find China’s best young basketball players, with the top three moving on to the Nike World Basketball Festival in Barcelona. Thirty players were brought in to run through a variety of drills based on Kobe’s own training regimen.

This basketball court not only represents the future of high-end athletic training, but also makes us think about how LEDs can affect athletics in the future. From the instant ability to change the floor lines in multipurpose rooms depending on the sport being played, to sensors and lights that track faults and out-of-bounds in sports like tennis and volleyball, LEDs will provide tremendous value for both amateur and professional athletes alike.

“LEDs are giving us the ability to do creative things that were never done, or even imagined, before with traditional lighting products,” said Jed Dorsheimer, Managing Director at Equity Research. “The use of LEDs in basketball courts is just one more example of how solid-state lighting is breaking from the mold of how lighting can be used. With the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and the new creative uses for LEDs, the solid-state lighting market has the potential to be much larger than the traditional lighting market.”

Check out the video of Nike’s “House of Mamba” LED basketball court, and let us know in the comments what you think the future of LEDs in sports will be.


A Vertically Integrated Approach to Sapphire Production

One of the things we take pride in at Rubicon Technology is our end-to-end manufacturing capabilities.

By having state-of-the-art facilities that support vertical integration, starting with the raw material aluminum oxide, we’re able to eliminate excess costs for our customers, and provide greater quality control to ensure the delivery of defect-free sapphire with diameters of 2, 4, 6, and soon, 8 inches.

This ultimately benefits LED chip manufacturers since high-quality, large-diameter wafers provide a higher yield and reduce costs of LEDs for commercial and residential use. Improved cost and luminous efficiency are fundamental to the acceleration of LED adoption in the marketplace — and continue to be strategic priorities for Rubicon.

The infographic below explains the basics of the six-step process of transforming sapphire into an LED module. Rubicon carries out steps 1 through 4 of the process — from crystal growth to wafer processing — before turning over to LED chip manufacturers.

We should also note that Rubicon recently started providing patterned sapphire substrates (PSS) to increase the LEDs’ light output by up to 30 percent. PSS is added directly prior to the epitaxial growth process.

The latter part of the process, after drilling, is primarily carried out in Rubicon’s facility in Malaysia. This facility enables Rubicon to reduce costs associated with making a 6-inch wafer.

For more info on the benefits of a vertically integrated approach, check out pages 50-55 of Compound Semiconductor’s March 2013 edition.

LEDs and Medicine: Diffuse Optical Tomography Uses LEDs to Scan Brain

A look at current DOT testing

A look at current DOT testing

According to a report in BioOptics World, scientists at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri have developed a new way to study the brain, diffuse optical tomography (DOT), a new non-invasive technique that relies on LEDs rather than magnets or radiation. While still experimental, it offers promise for a new non-invasive test for the human brain.

While it looks primitive now, DOT scans use LED light to measure brain activity. For a DOT scan, a subject wears a cap composed of many light sources and sensors connected to cables. A DOT cap covers two-thirds of the head and involves shining LED lights directly into the head. DOT images show brain processes taking place in multiple regions and brain networks, like those involved in language processing and self-reflection (daydreaming). It also avoids radiation exposure and bulky magnets required by positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) respectively.

DOT works best for patients with electronic implants that can be problematic with MRI testing such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulators (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). The magnetic fields in MRI may disrupt either the function or safety of implanted electrical devices while DOT doesn’t impact these types of devices.

How does DOT work? According to author Joseph Culver, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology, DOT can detect the movement of highly oxygenated blood flows to the parts of the brain that are working harder when the neuronal activity of a region in the brain increases. He told BioOptics World that, “It’s roughly akin to spotting the rush of blood to someone’s cheeks when they blush.”  According to the magazine, DOT works by detecting light transmitted through the head and capturing the dynamic changes in the colors of the brain tissue.

DOT has a lot of potential benefits for medicine concerning the brain.  Since DOT technology does not use radiation, doctors could monitor progress of patients using multiple scans performed over time without worry. It could be useful for patients recovering from brain injuries, patients with developmental disorders such as autism, and patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s.

Currently, a full-scale DOT unit takes up an area slightly larger than a phone booth, but Culver and his team have built versions of the scanner mounted on wheeled carts. The DOT device is designed to be portable, so it could be used at a patient’s bedside in the hospital or at home, in a doctor’s office, or even in the operating room in the future.

For more details about DOT, visit:


Nature, Mapping distributed brain function and networks with diffuse optical tomography, (registration required)



The Art of Light – James Turrell Brings LED Light to the Guggenheim

Aten Rein

A rendering of James Turrell’s ‘Aten Rein,’ which uses LED lights and make use of sunlight from the museum’s skylight. (Source: James Turrell/Andreas Tjeldflaat/Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

One of the world’s most renowned artists working with light, James Turrell, is transforming New York’s Guggenheim museum with LED light.  The exposition, “Aten Rein,” opened on June 21 and runs through September 25.  The exhibit, six years in the making, will transform the museum itself into an exhibit of light using LEDs.

Aten Rein uses LEDs to light the rotunda of the iconic architectural landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Turrell takes the natural light from the museum’s huge glass skylight and the museum’s unique shape to bathe the central rotunda area of the museum in a mixture of natural and LED light.  LEDs illuminate the five rings of the rotunda in bands of changing colors.  You can see how the column of light forms in the photo.

According to Turrell in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the name Aten Rein comes from the ancient Egyptian deification of light.  During the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, the Aten became the principle god of ancient Egypt.  Aten was the name for the sun itself. Turrell, world famous for his exhibitions in light, is also the subject of simultaneous retrospectives at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA.

For Further Reading

Wall Street Journal, Iconic Museum Seen in a New Light,

The Architectural Record, James Turrell at the Guggenheim,

The New York Times, How James Turrell Knocked the Art World Off Its Feet,