This week: how to design a good LED lighting power supply, the role of materials research in SSL development, and Audi's laser headlights jump the gun on BMW.
Audi will be first with laser headlights
Late last year BMW declared that it would have the first production automobile using laser-boosted headlights on the market by fall 2014. Audi has just stolen its rival's thunder by announcing that its soon-to-be-discontinued R8 sports sedan will get a special edition this summer, the LMX, months before the BMW i8 hits the market. The LMX will also sport laser-boosted high beams. The technology sounds quite similar to BMW's: a laser diode source activating a remote phosphor to produce a high-beam assist of greatly extended range. Audi's announcement didn't exactly say that the laser boost would be controlled by its camera-based, active beam technology; but it was implied.
Audi will make 99 of the R8 LMX models and sell them in Germany for €210,000 ($289,000). The price outside of Germany wasn't announced. The R8 has a V-10 engine and goes from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds; speed tops out at 199 mph.
Now let's see if BMW announces it will start its assembly line rolling in the spring.
Philips Automotive LED replacement headlights
Coming down from the automotive stratosphere, let's look at the kind of LED headlamps with which you might replace burned-out halogens to put your car back on US roads. Philips Automotive has announced replacement automotive headlamps, in 5" x 7" and 7" round form factors, using Luxeon Altilon LED technology from Lumileds (this site's sponsor).
The lamps produce 5600K light and have high and low beams with US NHTSA-mandated, boring manual control. Philips Automotive claims they will last 50 times as long as traditional headlamps. It's an odd claim. For many people, traditional headlamps last the life of the car; my xenons have not failed in 11 years. Why would I want to pay a steep premium for a product that will outlast not only my car, but also me and 15 generations of my descendants?
I predict the emergence of a brisk market in used LED headlamps, salvaged from cars at end-of-life.
How to design a good LED power supply
Electronics Weekly has a frankly worded piece on the considerations you need to take into account when designing a driver for LED lighting. The author doesn't call it a driver: it's just a power supply. Refreshing and worth a read.
LEDs' future through the lens of materials research
Here's a long-form piece up on Photonics whose reporter talked to knowledgeable guides from Osram Opto, Philips Lumileds, RIT's Lighting Research Center, and elsewhere. They talk about the large challenges facing the business of SSL now -- reducing droop, improving thermal performance, rendering colors better, and reaching 200 lm/W in commercial products -- and how materials hold the key to their solution. It's a perspective we don't encounter every day. Worth a read.
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting