SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Seeking to reduce the cost and complexity of light-emitting diode (LED) technology, Bridgelux Inc. has expanded its strategy and rolled out an LED array product line for use in solid-state lighting and other applications.
The LED arrays from Bridgelux (Sunnyvale, Calif.) consists of three basic lines, which are offered in warm, neutral and cool white color temperatures. Geared for the solid-state lighting and related sectors, the company is offering 10 different LED arrays, ranging from 400 to 2000 lumens.
The products expand the company's strategy. Bridgelux is mainly known as a supplier of standalone LED chip-level products, based on its proprietary LED device and manufacturing technology. In general, the devices are sold to third-party packaging houses, which, in turn, package and sell the devices to OEMs and customers.
This is sometimes a slow step-by-step design and development process. In some cases, the process delays time-to-market and drives up system costs, said Keith Scott, vice president of business development at Bridgelux.
Bridgelux' initial charter will not change--it will continue to sell LED chip-level products to customers, Scott said. But now, the company will also offer LED arrays--or module-like products--which reportedly consist of the company's individual LED chips.
The LED arrays ''will reduce design and system costs,'' Scott told EE Times. ''They will also open up new markets'' in LED lighting applications.
LED-based lighting technologies offer advantages over today's fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, including reliability, light quality and energy efficiency. But still, LEDs are more expensive than traditional bulbs.
Besides simplifying the development process for customers, Bridgelux is addressing the cost issues associated with LEDs. The company's modules sell from 1-to-2 cents per lumen in volumes. Competitive LED-based emitter products go from 2-to-6 cents per lumen.
A few other LED device makers are also expanding into the array sector. In fact, over the last several years, a slew of companies have entered the overall LED sector to capitalize on the booming market.
But the party could be over amid the current downturn. There is expected to be some consolidation in the sector, especially among the weaker players. On the other hand, the LED sector is one of the few bright spots in the downturn.
"There is doom-and-gloom (in the overall economy),'' Scott said, "but we're really optimistic. The market is good for LEDs.''
Aided by rising demand from LCD-TVs, revenue from LEDs is expected to increase by 2.9 percent in 2009, following 10.8 percent growth in 2008, according to iSuppli Corp. In contrast, the overall semiconductor market is set to decline by 9.4 percent in 2009, according to iSuppli.
Thanks to a shift towards the ''green movement'' in the U.S. and elsewhere, the LED market is also looking up for solid-state lighting and related applications. Bridgelux estimates the market potential for LED lamps and luminaires alone to be approximately $10 billion per year by 2012.
Solid-state lighting that replaces incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LEDs can reap enormous savings in cost, natural resources and pollution, according to a recent study by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RPI's Smart Lighting Engineering Resource Center claims that over the next 10 years savings of more than $1.8 trillion will eliminate the need to burn almost a billion barrels of oil in power plants that would otherwise produce 10 gigatons in the carbon dioxide emissions.
Bridgelux appears to be at the right place at the right time. Founded in 2002, the company bills itself as a vertically integrated LED player. It develops and controls all of the core LED technologies, including everything from epitaxial manufacturing to packaging. The company's LED chips are manufactured on 2-inch substrates, based on a sapphire technology.
Until now, the company mainly sold LED chips. Last year, it rolled out its latest product, dubbed NLX-5, which is built around gallium nitride (GaN) materials. When embedded in a standard, cool white LED package, the NLX-5 provides a typical light output of 85"to-90 lumens at 350mA, according to the company.
Now, it is entering the LED array business. The company's product line is said to deliver comparable performance to standard incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Typical applications for its LED array products include task, accent, spot, track, down light, wide area and security lighting.