LEDs are hot, really hot. So when I got a call asking if I’d spend a few minutes with a startup claiming to have the next big thing in LED lighting, I jumped on it. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The company is Oree Inc., taken from the Hebrew for light (or) and which translates to ‘my light’. It has developed a new way of packaging off-the-shelf LED die with state-of-the-art micro optics to realize a low-cost, thermally stable, uniform LED area light source that can produce up to 100 Lumens per Watt.
“That’s twice anything else that’s on the market today,” said its CEO, Eran Fine, who managed to turn my few minutes into a really fast full-hour conversation.
Catch a quick synopsys of that conversation in the video here, where Fine shows the LED lights in action and summarizes the key attributes, characteristics, performance specs and innovations. In essence, he makes the case that its planar light sources eliminate the tradeoffs between thickness, uniformity and efficiency.
The technology is called LightCell and while the company has been quietly sampling for a few months now, it is still so new that Fine went through permutations of the spelling and format of the name as we were chatting.
The site launched this week (www.oree-inc.com) and that launch was quickly followed by the announcement yesterday (August 12th) that the LED chip supplier to Oree, Taiwan-based Epistar Corporation has invested in Oree and its technology.
According to BJ Lee, chairman of Epistar, Oree’s is a ‘game-changing’ technology. I have to side with him on this, and to have one of the largest LED die makers in the world first partner, then invest, in your LED-based innovation has to auger well for what you’re doing.
What’s so interesting about LightCell is its simplicity and effectiveness. It’s not a brand new semiconductor technology so it doesn’t have the growing pains associated with that. Instead, it uses Epistar’s chips, which it then packages with micro-optic techniques and technologies that turn that LED-based point light source into an ultra-thin uniform surface with excellent thermal qualities.
Fig. 1: LightCell combines off-the-shelf LED chips with advanced micro optics to eliminate the tradeoffs between uniformity, efficiency and thickness.
While many LED-based area lighting sources depend on an array of closely matched LEDs that are driven by advanced LED drivers that ensure constant current through each to keep that light uniform across the surface, LightCell instead uses a passive approach, with a polymer-based waveguide with micro-optics for inserting and extracting the light efficiently and uniformly from the entire surface.
A continuation of this micro-optic treatment also works to prevent light from naturally bleeding from the edges, so it stays focused on the surface. In essence, the light guides control the incoupling, outcoupling and boundaries.
In total, LightCell is encompassed by 26 patents, all of which relate to either the packaging of the light source, the integration or, “the way we create the white light, through either phosphor or single source,” said Fine.
The end application is area lighting for both ceilings and desk lamps, and other applications . “We are a light source for fixture makers,” said Fine. Like I said, they’re currently sampling, but plan to be in production by year’s end and in fixtures by mid 2011.
Fig. 2: The target application for LightCell is lighting fixtures, where Oree's CEO Eran Fine promises quick and efficient replacement and lower overall system cost.
The lamps measure 6 mm thick, and come in RGB with an output of 40 Lumens. The warm white version is also 40 Lumens, with a color rendering index of over 85 % (vs. 82 % for CFL) and the full-white at 100 Lumens/W will emerge in Q2 2011 with a CRI of over 82%.
Interesting launch in a market that’s set to explode. What say you?
Fig. 3: The 100 Lumens/Watt version will emerge in 2011.