LG Innotek announces optical-film-based, LED automotive lighting

May 4, 2021
A lightguide-like approach to rear- and forward-facing lighting can lead to multifunction lighting modules that save weight, reduce power requirements, and add style.

LG Innotek has announced the Nexlide-E exterior automotive lighting platform that combines LEDs and optical film to deliver uniform illumination and options in shape and size. The company expects the technology to serve in both rear-and forward-facing roles and to deliver brighter performance while offering flexibility including the ability of one solid-state lighting (SSL) module to service multiple functions.

A few years back, it would not have been a surprise to learn of a new SSL technology from LG Innotek. But over the course of 2020, the company had sold off all its intellectual property focused on LED manufacturing. The company was a top-ten manufacturer of packaged LEDs up until a few years ago. The Nexlide-E is not so much tied to the company’s LED legacy but rather to its investment in a variety of products for the automotive industry. The company has a broad portfolio including wireless modules, sensors, and cameras for autonomous vehicles, and motors. The new exterior lighting platform simply adds to the automotive portfolio.

LG Innotek has used that Nexlide branding previously. A couple of years ago, the company announced Nexlide-L products that had a linear 3-mm light-emitting surface (LES) and that could be manufactured in geometric shapes. Now the Nexlide-E enables geometrically shaped panels with a uniform LES.

LG Innotek constructs its automotive SSL modules by placing an LED on a substrate, covering the LED with an optical resin for protection, and then mating it to the optical film. The company manufactures the film with a micropatterning technique to deliver the desired beam pattern.

Indeed, the optical film is the breakthrough. The company said prior films would not deliver the brightness required out of some exterior automotive lights. The newest film is 0.2-mm thick and can deliver as much as 130 cd. LG Innotek said the performance represents a 63% improvement over prior implementations.

The auto industry requires bright levels out of some of the standard exterior functions. For example, the stop or brake light on autos must deliver 110 cd or more in North America and Europe. The company said a single module based on Nexlide-E could handle both the stop light and taillight functions in an auto.

The company further said that the technology will support headlamps and daytime running lights. But we don’t see how it could be applied in the evolving adaptive drive beam (ADB) headlamp systems. Just a few weeks back, we covered a standardized approach to ADB from Samsung that promises to simplify such designs.

Still, the Nexlide-E will enable stylish designs in a simpler manner. For example, the technology will eliminate the need for optical elements such as lenses, reflectors, and mirrors. “The Nexlide-E is an innovative product that satisfies the customer needs for distinctive automotive lighting designs that give character to vehicles,” said Insoo Ryu, vice president and head of LG Innotek Automotive Components & Electronics Business Division. “With the Nexlide brand, LG Innotek will continue to deliver a safe and enjoyable driving experience with the automotive light source solution service.”

The energy efficiency of automotive lighting is also increasingly important with the trend toward electric vehicles. Battery capacity is incredibly important and manufacturers are looking at every automotive system to trim power requirements.

LG Innotek said the first auto model equipped with Nexlide-E technology will be in mass production later this year. The company says it is engaged with customers across US, Europe, and Asia. Moreover, the company said it is working on a next-generation concept called Nexlide-C+. That technology is intended to enable lighting modules with 3-D surface emission.

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

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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.