LEDs Magazine News & Insights 24 Jun 2020 - Editor's Column

June 24, 2020

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for June 24, 2020. We maybe should just change the name of this newsletter to UV News & Insights. It seems that is mostly what we do of late. I do realize that it is technology with incredible potential. Indeed, we thought that before ever hearing about the coronavirus. Now the world thinks so, too. Our mission will remain continuing to bring you all of the legitimate UV news and trying to maintain a voice of reason.

It really is a bit of a surprise how the UV opportunity has grasped old-school stalwarts like Osram and Signify that had almost abandoned the UV space to niche manufacturers. Last week, we covered Signify’s renewed interest in the sector. And this week, we have Osram reacting similarly. The companies are expanding capacity on legacy lamp production lines to support soaring demand.

Both Osram and Signify have indicated a greater focus on mercury lamps than on UV-C LEDs at this point. And as I mentioned last week, UV-C LEDs lack the output power to cover an entire room unless many LEDs are utilized. Some of this discussion was also present in our germicidal UV-C webcast presented by Bob Karlicek, director of the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) last week.

But don’t feel sorry for the UV-C LED manufacturers. Karlicek said those components are now backordered for months even as many germicidal applications do use legacy mercury lamps. Still, I would like to make one point. You have to think about LED sources differently whether the application is general illumination or germicidal UV. LEDs do not have to be used in the exact same way as is custom with legacy sources.

Pulsed LED energy may be more efficient at inactivating virus than constant legacy radiation. And you don’t need to leave LEDs powered on to avoid warmup time. If you apply them differently, UV-C LEDs may perform just fine despite general concerns over lifetime or power output. I learned that in a contributed article by Crystal IS that we published in late 2018.

Indeed, it was another news item that led me to revisit the Crystal article. In the latest news, Crystal and parent Asahi Kasei are offering venture funding to some companies with innovative UV-C disinfection concepts. Selected applicants will receive $250,000 or more. And Crystal will provide engineering consulting services to the selected applicants.

We will also get some industry assistance on the standards front later this year and again relative to the UV space. The Illuminating Engineering Society and the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA) are developing lighting measurement standards centric to UV. Such standards will ensure that all UV source manufacturers characterize their products similarly and that system-level product developers can fairly compare products from different vendors.

You will find many more stories of interest in the body of today’s newsletter. 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]