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Light emitting diodes show rapid growth
28 January 2004, News

The world lighting market is valued at nearly Euro18-billion per year and is expected to exceed Euro25-billion by 2007, and although general lighting accounts for the lion's share of the market, the most rapid growth - 17% per year - is taking place in the opto semiconductor market, represented by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

Red LEDs have already achieved a lifespan of 100 000 hours compared with 1000 hours for an incandescent bulb, but although white LEDs are increasingly being used in flashlights, camera flashes and train headlights, they are still not bright enough to compete with conventional sources.

With a view to closing this gap, scientists are exploring optimised semiconductor manufacturing processes that will allow improved control of material properties. The idea is to increase the semiconductors' quantum efficiency - the yield from the conversion of electrons into photons - from the current 15 to 30 to around 50%.

Also with a view to increasing light output, scientists are exploring how to produce LEDs in new shapes so that less light is trapped inside. Experts say that if all goes well, it should be possible to produce white LEDs that yield 100 lumens per watt in 10 years and that 200 lm/W is possible. By comparison, today's incandescent bulbs produce a mere 12 lm/W.

Meanwhile, OLEDs - layers of light-emitting and conductive plastics sandwiched in glass - are on the verge of commercial breakthrough. According to iSuppli, a US market research firm, sales of OLED displays will increase from $500m in 2004 to almost $2,5 bn by 2009. The displays are already appearing in cellphones, car stereos and electric shavers.

For more information contact Siemens Southern Africa, 011 652 2000.


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