Circadian lighting gets front and center

Jan. 17, 2020
In case you hadn’t noticed…there is a conference coming up that is consuming a lot of our focus. But for very good reasons, we focus today’s blog on why the circadian lighting panels are a critical part of this year’s Strategies in Light program.

Over the years, the advisory board has striven to make the Strategies in Light program broadly applicable to the entire LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) chain, while simultaneously staying on the leading-edge of LED technology and lighting applications. In its infinite wisdom, the planning team has seen fit to arrange not one but TWO panels on different topics in lighting for health and wellbeing more specifically, circadian lighting, in this case. Not a fad but a genuine evolution in the concept of artificial lighting, circadian lighting holds the promise of more closely mimicking the natural day-and-night cycles of light that may provide significant improvement in quality of life.

On Wed., Feb. 12, participants will summarize how research and discussion amongst industry stakeholders has resulted in newly developed standards for circadian lighting. Some of the panelists will be familiar to many of you for their past participation in our Lighting for Health and Wellbeing and Strategies in Light conferences, as well as their longstanding expertise in the field of LEDs and SSL:

  • Dr. Steven Lerman
  • Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, Circadian Zirclight
  • Mark Rea, PhD, Lighting Research Center (LRC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Jennifer Veitch, PhD, International Commission on Illumination

And on Thurs., Feb. 13, participants will speak toward the product development angle of LEDs for circadian lighting, describing advances in spectral engineering on the component level:

  • Erik Swenson, Nichia
  • Elio Jin-Ha Kim, Samsung Electronics
  • Jonathan Lowder, Seoul Semiconductor

“Over the past quarter century of laboratory and field experiments, we have come to understand how to quantify light exposure to support human health,” said the LRC’s Rea. “Based upon that understanding, UL has published a Design Guideline explaining how electric lighting can be specified during the day to support circadian entrainment for occupants of commercial, industrial, and educational facilities. This document is only a start, but an important start, in providing the public with circadian-effective light that supports sleep and thereby a healthy lifestyle.”

Certainly, some of the latest research published by the LRC shows positive impact on the general wellbeing of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD). In another study reported by the LRC, intriguing results have shown in an office setting that with the right light levels and circadian stimulus – a metric supported by the LRC’s research – at specific times of day, a combination of red, blue, and white light cycles will provide appropriate circadian entrainment, improving sleep/wake cycles and daytime alertness.

Product developers will rely on such design guidelines to help in applying the current wisdom to new SSL designs. The panelists from LED manufacturers Nichia, Samsung, and Seoul Semiconductor will no doubt find the prior panel complements the engineering knowledge they plan to share during the Thursday panel. Indeed, panelist Erik Swenson said, “As I spoke at the DoE [US Department of Energy] SSL Conference earlier this year, the industry is transitioning from the energy story to the quality-of-light story, as we should. Just providing basic energy-efficient, on/off lighting sells SSL technology dramatically short,” said Swenson. He continued, “There are pieces and steps to circadian lighting solutions. Many manufacturers are claiming to have circadian lighting but may only be supporting just pieces. Who, what, and how much do we listen to or believe? Is there enough evidence to support claims? What about conflicting studies? We need continued collaboration with the academic and medical communities to make sure we’re all on the same page and the industry is intelligently promoting or providing the right solutions. Ultimately, end users must understand what the results and value will be.”

Rea and Swenson and their fellow panelists have no doubt been subjected to uninformed discussions regarding the benefits and potential hazards of LED lighting on human biology, but there are plenty of resources that indicate the SSL industry and standards bodies have plenty of data to inform a strategy for more beneficial artificial lighting. We look to the platform they’re given at Strategies in Light to help the SSL industry utilize proven research and best practices for design and implementation, while acknowledging that there will be more to learn and ultimately to fine-tune circadian lighting guidelines, standards, and metrics for the best possible outcomes. Join us from Feb. 1113, 2020 in San Diego to leverage these lessons and more.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.