SSL Technology Update: January 14, 2013

In this week's update: LED and solid-state lighting news from the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas; Cree announces a retrofit lamp and a new driver compatibility program.

Rambus used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to launch an LED retrofit lamp family that use the company's MicroLens technology. MicroLens is a light guide that has integrated optical elements formed inside the guide that deflect light creating a naturally diffuse light. The primary usage has been in planar lighting, but Rambus developed a cylindrical light guide to create an omnidirectional beam distribution for the retrofit lamp application. Rambus, however, doesn’t typically manufacture products but rather licenses the technology that it develops, and that appears to be the case here as the company says that it will bring the product to market with partners. Elite Group will evidently be the initial source for the retrofit lamps and the first product will be a 60W equivalent lamp due in the second quarter.

Also at CES, NXP Semiconductor demonstrated a dim-to-warm solid-state lighting technology that the company says will more closely mimic the operation of incandescent lamps. Dim to warm products came on the market last year and typically mix a red or amber LED into a lamp or luminaire allowing the color temperature to become warmer as the light is dimmed. An LED-based product that uses only white LEDs will maintain the same color temperature as it is dimmed. But many available dim-to-warm products end up looking almost red at low light levels. NXP says that the problem is that the junction temperature of the LED drops as the drive current drops and that causes a shift in the color properties of the LEDs. NXP says that it has developed a way to monitor junction temperature to keep the color temperature on the blackbody curve as the light level drops. The technology will come to market in a yet to be announced driver IC product from NXP.

TVs are always among the hottest items at CES. Generally we will leave that coverage to other publications, but here are a couple of interesting highlights for the LED crowd. LG said at CES that it would only use LEDs for backlighting in LCD TVs going forward. Customers haven't fully embraced paying more for LED-lit TVs, but now the benefits of reliability and energy savings are making the technology mainstream. LG also made news on the organic LED front announcing a 55-in set that will sell for $12,000.

Away from CES, Cree announced an MR16 retrofit lamp that the company says offers the industry's best center beam candle power and 620 lm at 9 watts. The lamps are based on Cree MT-G2 LEDs. Separately, the company launched a drive compatibility program that certifies drives that work with Cree LED modular light engines.

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