LumiLeds Lighting is attempting to alter the face of backlights used in LCDs with an LED-based technology the company claims overcomes the color, durability, size, and environmental limitations of cold-cathode-fluorescent (CCFL) backlights.
LumiLeds, San Jose, now has the capability to produce red-green-blue (RGB) backlights optimized around the company's Luxeon high-power LED light sources, and plans to ramp production into the tens of thousands by the end of the year, according to Menko Deroos, vice president of new business development.
LumiLeds is negotiating strategic agreements with several backlight manufacturers to have the LED technology designed into their backlights, according to Deroos, who declined to identify the names of the companies he was referring to. LumiLeds is targeting backlights for large LCD monitors and TVs, which Deroos said will range in size from 12in. diagonally and up.
If LumiLeds succeeds in bringing the LED backlight technology to market, it will be a big boost to LCD suppliers, noted Paul Semenza, an analyst at Stanford Resources Inc., San Jose.
"It's been a challenge for the industry to produce a large-area LED backlight," Semenza said. "By having an LED backlight with RGB capability, display makers could possibly simplify the design of their assemblies."
Running the gamut
The major advantage of the LED backlight is the color gamut-130% of NTSC, compared with the typical 70% for a CCFL backlight. This expanded gamut enables the user to see more saturated and real-life colors, Deroos said.
Aside from better color fidelity, another advantage of the LED-based backlight is its greater durability than CCFLs, according to Deroos. "The solid-state LED backlight is good for 50,000 hours," he said. "While some CCFL backlights can last that long, they're also prone to breakage and failure because of their glass-based construction."
Display thickness also benefits from LumiLeds' LED technology. An 18in. LCD that uses an 8 to 12mm-thick CCFL backlight could use a 4 to 6mm-thick LED backlight, with a resultant savings in weight as well, according to Deroos.
Moreover, the solid-state LED backlight uses no mercury, unlike the CCFL backlight. The absence of toxic chemicals makes disposing of a product with the LED backlight environmentally safer, he added.
Getting it ready
LumiLeds is still refining the LED backlight technology, but will be able to come out with product by early next year that consumes less than 15W, compared with 20W for products being made now, Deroos said.
To facilitate use of the LED technology, the company will develop a standard module, which Deroos termed a "light engine" that will enable backlight manufacturers to incorporate LumiLeds' technology in their own backlight designs.