SIL STRIKING POINT: Improved solid-state light sources will be key to the future of lighting

Jan. 25, 2017
In an interview with SIL co-chair Bob Steele, SoraaLaser’s Paul Rudy describes the future of SSL and applications that will be advanced by evolving laser light sources.

In an interview with SIL co-chair ROBERT STEELE, SoraaLaser’s PAUL RUDY describes the future of SSL and applications that will be advanced by evolving laser light sources.

The dramatic developments in LED technology have clearly had an enormous impact on the lighting industry. However, light source technology evolution is far from complete, and continuing technology development will be key to the future of lighting. At the upcoming Strategies in Light 2017 (SIL; February 28-March 2, Anaheim, CA) conference, in the track entitled “Technology Innovation to Support Market Growth,” a session will be devoted to the topic “Light Source Evolution and the Future of Lighting.” The lead speaker in this session will be Paul Rudy, PhD, co-founder and SVP of business development at SoraaLaser, whose presentation is entitled “Laser Light Sources for Specialty Illumination Applications.” Rudy has worked in the field of photonics for 20 years and has extensive general management, technical product marketing, and product management experience. Prior to SoraaLaser, Rudy worked as director of marketing at Coherent, the world’s largest commercial laser manufacturer, specifically commercializing laser devices based on gallium arsenide (GaAs).

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Recently, SIL co-chair Bob Steele interviewed Paul Rudy regarding the subject of laser-based light sources.

Bob Steele: InGaN [indium gallium nitride] diode lasers have been around for a long time, and are widely used in consumer electronics products such as Blu-ray players. Why are they only now being considered for lighting?

White light being generated by laser light sources.

Steele: What are the advantages of laser sources compared to LEDs for producing white light?

Rudy: As noted above, these laser-pumped phosphor light sources do not suffer from droop, so high conversion efficiencies at high optical pump power are achieved. Laser-based white light sources have very high luminance values (1000 cd/mm2) relative to LEDs, so hundreds of lumens can be emitted within a small beam angle (1–2°), allowing for a high degree of optical control using very small optical elements. The laser-based sources can also enable a convergence of projection display with miniaturized luminaires for projection illumination applications.

Steele: What applications do you envision for laser-based sources?

Rudy: Clearly, laser-based sources are not suitable for all lighting applications, such as broad area illumination. However, we are exploring a number of applications in which such sources are highly advantageous. These include micro-spotlights and micro-luminaires for directional applications in architecture and entertainment, and fiber-delivered, high-lumen ultracompact outdoor lights for roadways and stadiums. We are also exploring applications such as Li-Fi systems with very high data rate capacity relative to Wi-Fi and LED Li-Fi.

Steele: When do you expect laser-based light sources to be commercialized for general lighting applications (as noted above, they are already being used in car headlamps)?

Rudy: In the past 3 years, laser-based displays have emerged to consume substantial volumes of laser-based light sources. Specialty lighting and automotive lighting are now adopting this exciting technology, and will drive a new additional wave of volumes in the coming three years. Beyond that, development is already ongoing to integrate dynamic laser light sources into advanced general lighting applications such as smart lighting, Li-Fi, and IoT [Internet of Things].

BOB STEELEis conference co-chair for Strategies in Light (