LEDs Magazine News & Insights 24 Feb 2021 – Editor’s Column

Feb. 24, 2021

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for Feb. 24, 2021. After a flurry of activity early this month, the pace of product and technology announcements in the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) sectors has again slowed. Germicidal ultraviolet (UV) applications remain the exception even as the rate of coronavirus infection is dropping across the globe. Let’s hope that trend continues and yet another vaccine candidate is near market.

Back to the slowdown, I’d suggest that it’s part of a broad slowing of the technology economy being driven by supply chain issues that have been especially troublesome for semiconductor manufacturers. Indeed, there is an acute shortage of the complex digital ICs that lie at the heart of mobile phones, gaming consoles, PCs, and more. If you have an old graphics card for a PC laying around, you might dust it off and post it on eBay. Prior-generation-technology products have soared in value.

LEDs are very simple semiconductors, but the supply chain for both the components and for end products such as lighting still suffer issues such as ports constrained by COVID-19. And the recent weather patterns did not help matters. I believe we will see significant improvements in the coming weeks, especially if COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline.

Moving to what is happening in our sectors, we’ll start with an opportunity for an expert in networked lighting controls in the SSL sector. The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) has published an RFP (request for proposals) for a study it wants a contractor to conduct on benefits beyond energy efficiency that are tied to connected SSL. Move fast if you are interested. The deadline is Mar. 1, and the DLC plans to award the contract in mid-March.

And speaking of the supply chain, technology will impact the flow of raw materials as well. Our Carrie Meadows wrote recently about 3-D printing and how additive manufacturing will impact the SSL space. There are many things that will always benefit from traditional mass production that in many cases is a subtractive process with a lot of waste. But I think 3-D printing will become a part of the SSL industry toolbox that creates value in terms of feature set and in terms of profit margin for some products.

Getting to the UV-C-band disinfection news, we have a case study on how a professional rugby team has deployed the technology in the team locker rooms. Actually the story is much deeper, because the London team commandeered what had been a lounge for fans for use as a locker room, so that there was space for social distancing. And now the team has installed Signify upper-air disinfection systems in the space. And we have another Signify upper-air story coming your way later today or tomorrow. Stay tuned to the website.

The UV-C LED space also continues to percolate. Osram Opto Semiconductors was a relative latecomer to the UV LED sector, introducing its first UV-C LEDs just recently after several years of research activity. Now the company, under the control of new parent ams, has acquired a stake in UV-C startup Bolb. Bolb believes it has developed technology that will enable more-powerful and longer-life UV-C LEDs, and evidently Osram agrees.

I have hinted recently several times about upcoming UV-C webcasts that we were planning, and now I can encourage you to register and plan to attend. On Mar. 11 we will have a presentation on specific requirements for drivers of UV-C LEDs and how such designs differ from visible light systems. Mean Well will present. A couple of weeks later on Mar. 23, long-time LED sector researcher Mike Krames will do a deep dive on advancements in UV-C LEDs in terms of performance, lifetime, and cost. Legacy lamps are dominant in UV-C disinfection applications today, but LEDs are starting to win in some cases and will serve a far greater segment of the application going forward.

You have one week left to enter our Sapphire Awards under the Early Bird discount program. Technologies that came to market in 2020 or in early 2021 are eligible for entry. And remember we added Design Excellence Awards sponsored by the LCA (Lighting Controls Association) that will focus on projects with innovative controls implementations.

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]