LEDs Magazine News & Insights 27 March 2020 - Editor's Column

March 27, 2020

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for March 27, 2020. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that we’ve come to the end of yet another trying and unprecedented week — in society and only secondarily in LEDs and solid-state lighting (SSL). Again I send my best wishes for good health to you, your families, your friends, and your colleagues.

It’s hard to look on the bright side of the coronavirus pandemic. But the devil that is the virus is driving unprecedented advancement in computer modeling for potential therapeutic treatments and vaccinations. Moreover, iconic inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson and his engineering team were able to design a ventilator in ten days, and they stand ready to put it into production with features specifically intended to preempt COVID-19.

One of my best friends designed ventilators throughout much of his engineering career and those projects took months or years. And trust me, my friend is a top-notch analog design engineer. But when you can skip the regulatory hurdles, you can sure move faster. Moreover, even if Dyson’s design is not appropriate for workhorse usage in a hospital over years, perhaps it can provide some temporary mitigation for a society in crisis.

The nasty virus has also spawned opportunists to tout products that would have little impact on the situation. And of course scammers are targeting the scared populace. We are trying to avoid such items masquerading as news and bring you updates that seem legitimate.

But the virus has also spurred truly innovative ideas. My friend and competitor Randy Reid, who manages the Edison Report website among other things, has posted an item on a concept by Don Peifer to utilize ultraviolet (UV) LEDs in a protective mask to protect against coronavirus infection.

Peifer has always been an outside-the-box thinker. I first met him when I was new to the LED sector back in 2010 when he was CTO of Lunera Lighting. I’m not sure we have a full archive of the column he wrote back then, but he was espousing the benefits of connected LED lighting in a time when many doubted that LED lighting would succeed in general illumination. Peifer has sketched out the design of a mask with a UV-C-band chamber disinfecting air flowing into the mask. He and I shared a brief email conversation on the topic. The idea will not prevent the surface contamination issue, but Peifer will try and use social funding to launch a development project that could yield better protective masks if a second wave of coronavirus hits in the fall or winter.

In other late-week news, our Mark Halper wrote about a horticultural lighting experiment ongoing at the International Space Station (ISS). NASA was among the earliest of proponents of LED-based horticultural lighting, as we learned during the Keynote Presentation at our first Horticultural lighting Conference back in 2016. I’m still looking for a few papers for our HortiCann Light + Tech Conference coming Oct. 20. Send me an abstract.

You will find many more stories of interest in the body of today’s newsletter. Please note my relatively new email address below. And always feel free to contact me to discuss content we post or to pitch a contributed article.

- Maury Wright, (858) 748-6785, [email protected]