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Guangzhou: Full of Eastern Promise

Issue 56 Aug / Sep 2010

Dr Geoff Archenhold reviews two very different lighting events - the 15th Guangzhou International Lighting Show and the OLED Insider Summit held in London - that highlighted the very latest in LED and OLED technology.

The lighting market is rapidly changing due to the speed and skills required to implement and specify quality LED and OLED lighting systems, however Solid-State Lighting is proving to be somewhat of a saviour for the lighting industry during what history will say was the harshest economic times that western economies will have seen (excluding the south sea bubble). The drive to install energy efficient lighting systems whilst reducing operational expenditure in the back-drop of increasing energy costs is now paramount for customers and these drivers have buffered the lighting industry from significant lows.

Over the last couple of months there has been several new breakthrough’s in both LED and OLED production that will provide a further step forward in delivering quality and sustainable lighting to the market including improved LED manufacturing processes and R&D breakthroughs.

After visiting the Guangzhou International Lighting Show, the second largest lighting show in the world after Light + Building in Frankfurt, I am further convinced that China will be a very important global market for the LED and OLED lighting industry.  Read on to find out why!

China’s Premier Lighting Show

The Guangzhou International Lighting Show is the premier lighting show in China and is the one place in the world where visitors and exhibitors can gain a comprehensive overview of what’s happening in both the Asian and global lighting industries.

The show attracted some 15,796 visitors from 116 countries and regions which was an increase of 40 per cent from last year with Chinese visitors increasing by 35 per cent compared to last year to over 56,000. Each morning thousands of visitors packed the entrances to see the latest lighting products on exhibit as shown in figure 1.

The show attracted leading lighting brand names as shown in figure 2 within specific brand halls including Osram, Philips, Everlight and GE Lighting whilst the LED halls hosted industry leaders such as Cree Inc, Nichia, Rohm, Seoul Semiconductor  and Toshiba amongst many others.
There was a host of additional conferences and workshops running in parallel to the main exhibition halls with programmes attracting more than 2,280 attendees and many of the workshops being filled to capacity.

A few of the most popular seminars included: 
•    Guangzhou International Lighting
    Technology Symposium 2010
•    LEDFORUM China
•    Innovation in Lighting Symposium
•    Global Lighting Information Day, which
    discussed the “Development of Energy-
    efficiency Lighting”
•    China Lighting Information Day

A new attraction for 2010 was the Lighting Design Gallery where lighting design professionals shared their ideas and experiences. The gallery was co-organised by the Chinese Lighting Designer Association (CLDA), the LUCI Association (Lighting Urban Community International), the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) and the Professional Lighting Designers’ Association (PLDA). 

I was privileged to take part in the Global Lighting Information Day panel which covered topics such as: the Development of Energy-Efficiency Lighting - China Green Lighting Programmes and Government Activities from Dr Li Tienan, China Quality Mark Certification Group; Development of Energy-efficiency Lighting in Germany from Mr Albert Studerus, Senior Vice President Global Sales Solid State Lighting, OSRAM; and Development of Energy-efficiency Lighting in the USA from Mr Tang Guoqing, General Manager of Marketing Development, CREE Inc. The panel discussion proved to be very interactive with many questions covering aspects of the ‘Market Development of Energy-efficient Lighting: In Light of Technical Development and Government Activities’.

My initial impressions of the show was that it refreshingly covered a whole host of lamp technologies from induction lamps, fluorescents and CFLs right through to LEDs in contrast to Light + Building that was mainly LED dominated. There was a whole range of ancillary lighting components covering electronic ballast and LED drivers, reflectors, materials, optics and diffusers. The event is ideal for companies looking to source components, however the levels of technology readiness and sophistication of complete lighting systems were in my opinion a few years behind the best products from European manufacturers.

Indeed many of the Chinese companies that I met where very keen to work with European companies in order to improve their quality and to create advanced lighting fixtures. I believe this is a great opportunity for UK and European companies to export high quality products and know-how to China whilst locating suitable manufacturing partners (whilst the UK and European Governments make up its mind to deliver real strategies to support the manufacturing base locally). I can hear many of you shout that I must be mad to recommend anyone work with Chinese partners as “they will just copy products” and sell them at 50% of the price back to your customers. Unfortunately, I think for some companies this type of business etiquette may be true (it also happens in Europe as well as China!) however the opportunities of partnering significantly outweigh any negatives in my opinion.

For example, the Chinese domestic lighting market is set to become the largest lighting market in the world within the next seven years at over $35.2 Billion with North America representing $31.2 Billion and Western Europe at $26.3 Billion as shown in figure 4. In order to be successful in the global lighting market any lighting company will need to have a presence in the Chinese domestic market.

Many of the Chinese company stands offered standard format LED products from simple retrofit bulbs and linear RGB strips right through to more complex Power Line Control (PLC) lighting control systems however there were some noticeable company’s demonstrating technologies that could make a significant impact on LED lighting over the next few years. One such company was Kangrong Fine Ceramic Co that demonstrated a new low cost ceramic material, K9-H, which stated 10x the heat dissipation of standard aluminum heat sinks.

One reason the K9-H material offers superior performance is that the ceramic technology does not have regular particles at its surface which forms significant heat dissipation channels and extends the surface areas to improve heat exchange compared to metal surfaces which have similar particle sizes and shapes so the heat transfer only occurs at the outer most particle layers.

K9-H has a thermal conductivity of 25-39W/m.k which is low compared to Aluminium at 203W/m.k however the thermal radiation rate of K9-H is 0.97 compared to Aluminium which only has 0.05. The overall LED heat dissipation for a heat sink design is a combination of the thermal conductivity and the thermal radiation rate so the LED junction temperatures of a system using K9-H is claimed to be 5 to 10% lower than the exactly equivalent heat sink made from aluminium.

There are significant advantages of K9-H including:
•    High insulation with volume resistivity
    is 1012~1013 over temperature ranges of
•    High safety
•    Non chemical corrosion, non-oxidizing,
    rust free.
•    Environmentally friendly: no polluting
•    Abrasion resistance: compared with
    Aluminum, almost no abrasion.
•    High surface area and heat dissipation
Kangrong demonstrated a family of ceramic based retrofit lamps and Heatsinks as shown in figure 5 for MR16’s and GU10’s.

LED Emitter updates
There has been considerable progress made by both Philips Lumileds and Cree recently announcing new products and improved colour quality through new production processes.

Philips Lumileds has just announced the availability of the new Rebel ES which houses an increased LED die area within exactly the same package as the popular Rebel emitters. The new ES emitters offer significantly improved efficiency and light output performance offering 125lm/W efficacy at 350mA with a CCT between 3500-4500K. The efficacy reduces to 105lm/W at 700mA however the emitter produces over 200 lumens (minimum) at this forward current.

In additional, the new Rebel ES emitters provide the same thermal management and packaging technology as the standard ANSI Rebel so that the performance does not degrade significantly with increased junction temperature.

Although pricing has not been announced the advantage of these new products is they can easily be used to replace standard Rebel products within current light fixtures and improve the performance without any redesign of the fixture layout.

In addition, Philips Lumileds also announced they have started to yield results from their Lumiramic phosphor technology and the new LUXEON Rebel parts. The overall distribution of the manufactured LED product is significantly smaller than was previously possible or is possible with other solutions as shown in figure 6.

What is impressive with these results is the production yield is very tight in terms of white light distribution. Many LED Companies claim they have smaller LED Bins, but populating those bins usually comes at a cost, especially if the distribution of white light from production is wide. For example, a wide production distribution of colour temperatures leads to poor numbers of LEDs with smaller defined bins and therefore supply chain instability. Alternatively production volumes must be increased in order to provide sufficient LED numbers in the smaller bins.  In the case of the new Rebel LED parts using Lumiramic phosphor, the actual population distribution is smaller and therefore smaller bins come naturally without cost.

Recently, Cree announced they have improved their white light binning of multichip LED emitters with the industry’s smallest warm and neutral bins for their XLamp MP-L and MC-E EasyWhiteTM LEDs as shown in figure 7. The breakthrough provides a single two-step MacAdams ellipse bin per colour temperature, optimized to achieve incandescent-like colour consistency and eliminating the need to purchase multiple small bins and perform complex colour mixing.

EasyWhite binning is a unique feature of Cree multi-chip LED components that enables customers to specify a colour temperature and lumen output, simplifying LED system design and improving LED-to-LED colour consistency. Each bin, at the intersection of the black body locus and standard warm/neutral CCT points, is 94 percent smaller than the respective ANSI C78.377 quadrangle and 75 percent smaller than current Cree EasyWhite bins.

XLamp MP-L and MC-E LEDs with EasyWhite 2-step bins are offered in 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, and 4000K and are now available in sample and production quantities.

These breakthroughs in production processes increase the quality and consistency of white LED lighting to a level beyond that of many traditional lamp sources and in theory at no extra cost.

These new breakthroughs in LED manufacturing highlight an issue with Standards and Standards bodies: that by the time standards are put in place they are outdated. It is now probably time to raise the standard of LED products in the marketplace by revising the ANSI C78.377 to have much smaller bin sizes. This standard should also be applied to other light sources so that any products in the market place that do not meet them cannot be sold. Enforcing such standards would yield improvements in end-user satisfaction and ensure only quality products are sold in Europe.

Although most of the R&D attention is focussed on white LED improvements the team at OSRAM have made a significant breakthrough in their laboratories by increasing the efficiency performance of their thin-film red LEDs by up to 30%. The latest generation of thin-film chips benefit from an optimized chip platform which has potential for further improvements. This boost in efficiency will open up new LED applications in general illumination, micro projectors and the industrial sector.

The record efficiency was achieved for an LED of 119 lm/W at an operating current of 350 mA (136 lm/W at 70mA) by the latest generation of a red 1 mm2 thin-film chip (InGaAlP) as shown in figure 8. The chip was accommodated in a Golden Dragon Plus package and emits at a wavelength of 615 nm (λ dominant). The LEDs efficiency has been measured at 44% (49% at 70mA), and even exceeds 50% for a wavelength of 642 nm.

The improved performance of the LEDs greatly expands the possible applications for red LED light sources. For example, exceptionally high efficiency means that warm white LED solutions can be produced with better quality of light and a better energy balance through colour mixing than through the usual conversion of blue light

The performance compares favourably to those red LEDs currently in production, for example the highest bin from the Cree XP-E is 73.9 lumens and 50 lumens from the Philips Rebel at 350mA.

Colour tuneable LED Lighting Fixtures
ENFIS from the UK was exhibiting at the Guangzhou fair their latest range of UNO Plus Products complete with drivers, optics and thermal management.
Following an increasing trend of colour tuneable lighting fixtures ENFIS launched a high-quality, tuneable, efficient, LED light engine range suitable for integration into smaller standard fixture sizes such as AR111 or AR70 as well as spotlights and downlighters.
The 40W modules shown in figure 9 are available in the following versions:
•    High CRI tuneable: >90 CRI from 3000K to
•    Warm white tuneable: 1800K  to 4100K
•    RGBW: 3000K - 6500K + full RGB
Combing high illumination, with such a versatile, high quality output in a compact form factor, these products enable lighting designers and fixture manufacturers to create a huge range of effects and moods and for architectural, hospitality, entertainment and display applications.

The OLED Lighting Design Summit Europe
As discussed in the Light + Building edition of mondo*arc, OLEDs are getting a fair share of marketing in the lighting industry with many bold promises of becoming the future of lighting, so when I was invited to attend the recent OLED Lighting Design Summit Europe held in London I jumped at the chance to listen to leading players working in the field.
Interestingly, Novaled a leader in OLED materials presented a series of their roadmap for different substrates, including metal, which enables improved thermal performance. Tables 2 and 3 show the roadmap for OLEDs on steel and glass substrates. They indicate that the manufacturing processes will achieve roll-to-roll by 2012 and 50lm/W with a lifetime of 50,000 hours.

Table 4 highlights the OLED performance roadmap based on transparent materials which show that both the size and efficiency will be limited even out to 2014.

Interestingly the majority of OLED products discussed are based on glass substrates with small physical dimensions which is why most OLED fixtures are shown with multiple small emitters. The efficiency of white OLED panels may reach 60 lm/W by 2013 however price is definitely going to be an issue as the products available today do not show a return on investment profile anywhere near that of traditional lamp sources or even LED fixtures.

GE stated during the conference they believed that OLED will only offer a viable alternative to traditional lighting as long as they can be manufactured using a Roll-to-Roll manufacturing process to enable volume manufacturing scale in order to drive down pricing.
Most OLED development to date has relied on a vacuum-based batch process to apply the organic material to one panel at a time. Elusive solution-based approaches will apply the OLED material as the base electrode sheet moves from a supply roll to a take-up roll.

True R2R processes have been difficult to achieve, though GE and partners Konica Minolta claim to have solved the problem of mass production via a solution coating of materials that will enable the use of a roll-to-roll manufacturing line similar to those proven effective in the printing industry.

The partners announced recently they have produced white OLED panels that deliver 56 lm/W. GE plans to introduce a commercial product in 2011 based on the solution-based approach.  

Asia is becoming a leading producer of LED emitters and lighting fixtures with a vast array of new and established Chinese companies beginning to develop LED products and technologies that could be vital for the future of lighting.

The majority of the lighting companies seen at the Guangzhou International Lighting Fair are commercialising standard products which may or may not be suitable for the European market in terms of performance or safety standards, however there is definitely significant progress being made by these home grown companies.
The Chinese lighting market is expanding significantly driven by Government support for energy efficient and green lighting projects. International market research states that the Chinese market will become the largest global lighting market by 2017 therefore it’s vitally important the European lighting community engages with their Chinese counterparts to share expertise and technology know-how in order to access this market.

Finally, the latest OLED roadmaps highlight 2011 and 2012 will be defining years for promises being made about the robustness and performance of OLED lighting fixtures. If the technology cannot be made in volume, low cost and reliable compared to traditional light sources or even high brightness LEDs by the end of 2012 I think the opportunities for OLEDs to gain significant market share could be lost. 

If you would like to know more about any aspects of the LED sector then please send your questions or comments to me at

Geoff Archenhold is an adviser to the UK Government on LED technology and helps LED companies raise investment from the finance community. He is an investor in an LED driver company and an LED fixture company, a Lighting Energy Consultancy and euroLEDs Events LLP.

The views expressed in this article are entirely those of Geoff Archenhold and not necessarily those of mondo*arc.


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