Nichia will offer LEDs based on GE Current’s TriGain narrowband red phosphor

Nov. 23, 2020
GE Current licensed TriGain in display applications years ago, but until the new Nichia license agreement, only GE Current general lighting products have leveraged the efficacy and color rendering benefits.

GE Current and Nichia have jointly announced a licensing agreement that will enable Nichia to sell LEDs into the open general lighting market that utilize the TriGain red phosphor originally developed at GE Lighting. TriGain delivers a very narrow emission band that results in the ability of an LED to deliver warm CCT and high color rendering scores with no efficacy penalty. Until now, GE Current alone has sold TriGain-based solid-state lighting (SSL) products into general illumination applications, but now Nichia will offer such components globally.

Back in 2015, the company that was then called GE Lighting made a major lighting quality push at the LightFair International event touting the benefits of TriGain. The narrow emission band, sometimes called a line phosphor, delivered the red spectral energy needed for warmer CCTs and good color performance yet did not generate energy above the human visual range that is essentially wasted. Even earlier that year, GE Lighting had announced that it was licensing the TriGain technology to Nichia and Sharp only for sale into display backlighting applications — improving the reds displayed on LCD TVs equipped with the technology.

GE Lighting and later Current, powered by GE and now GE Current, a Daintree company, have continued to utilize and tout the benefits of TriGain in commercial LED-based lighting products. Nichia has long been a close partner of GE Current and it turns out has been making the custom TriGain-enabled LEDs for GE Current going back to 2015.

TriGain is a potassium fluorosilicate (PFS) phosphor formulation. GE Current says it is the only phosphor technology that can meet “priority levels of specification criteria for ANSI/IES TM-30 Annex E” while still delivering excellent efficacy. We’d note that quantum dots (QDs) can deliver similar benefits as we have covered in relation to the Osram Opto Semiconductors Osconiq S 3030 QD LEDs. In fact, we recently hosted a webcast on that QD technology as part of our Renaissance of Light Quality virtual conference and that archive will still be available through mid-December. But QD technology does have some inherent reliability issues that PFS phosphor does not.

We’d presume that GE Current’s primary motivations for making TriGain more widely available are perhaps lower-cost LEDs that result from volume and also licensing revenue. For Nichia, TriGain is another option in a consistent push for better light quality that we have seen from the company in the past couple of years.

“We are thrilled that Nichia, who has been a long-time strategic partner of ours, will be the first to license our TriGain technology,” said Melissa Wesorick, chief marketing officer at GE Current. “The move will bring TriGain technology to more corners of the market and enable improved commercial lighting products.”

“For several years, Nichia has put an increased effort into overall quality of light. The market is now demanding more from SSL, beyond simply LPW or CRI alone,” said Hideki Kaneguchi, executive general manager of Nichia’s Lighting business. “We are very excited to have the license to supply PFS LEDs to the global general illumination market. This technology will help us improve overall quality of light by delivering a high color preference without sacrificing efficiency.”

For now, Nichia has not said which of its packaged LED platforms will be available in a TriGain variant or when TriGain products will be commercially available. We would assume that the company’s workhorse 757 platform with a 3×3-mm footprint would be an obvious initial target.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.