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The Evolution of LED Technology

Light-Emitting Diodes are the most efficient means of producing high quality lighting in commercial or industrial settings. They emit light that more accurately replicates natural light than any previous light source, while producing 80% less heat.

Early weaknesses, such as limited lifespan, dissuaded building owners from their adoption. This problem has been eliminated by improvements in the manufacturing process. Let’s explore some of the developments that have established the technology as the preeminent choice for commercial and industrial applications.

Enhanced Equipment

Over the past ten years, equipment used to manufacture LED dies has undergone dramatic improvement. LED manufacturers have shifted away from class 10,000 clean rooms to highly efficient class 1,000 clean rooms for all production processes. This has resulted in a measurable reduction in the amount of contaminants that can enter the room.

New processes incorporated into the systems used to create die substrates are resulting in a 20% improvement in uniformity, while generating more consistent color performance and cost savings.

Due in large part to this enhanced equipment, the structural efficiency of LEDs has improved from 50% to 70% ten years ago, to over 90% today. Enhanced structural efficiency in turn creates superior visual performance.

Improved Processes

Two major process improvements have led to a significant increase in visual performance, particularly for white LEDs. Eight years ago, LEDs could only achieve a Color-Rendering Index (CRI) of 50 to 60. In particular, there were issues producing warm white light. Improvements in manufacturing have pushed CRI ratings to 90 and beyond.

Several steps were added to the manufacturing process to create visually appealing warm white light. Red and blue dies were combined and coated with a highly-engineered phosphor that delivers specific gradients of white.

A second significant process improvement was the shift from sapphire substrate to thin-film based die production. Rather than growing dies in a crystal format, they are now made via a thin film process, which can be controlled at a molecular level, greatly enhancing wavelength uniformity and thus visual performance.

Superior Materials

The wafers used to create LED dies have also undergone significant improvements in recent years. Whereas 10-15 years ago three and four inch wafers were common, today they have doubled in size. As the optimally performing die materials are at the center rather than at the

edges of the wafer, six inch wafers produce up to twice the volume of high quality LED die chips and do so at 30% to 50% cost savings.

LED Technology Will Continue to Improve

LED technology has drastically improved in the last 10 to 15 years. Diodes have become smaller, more efficient and longer lasting. This translates to cost savings in terms of initial investment and long-term operations.

While LED technology will continue to evolve, it currently represents the best option for commercial and industrial environments seeking efficient, long-lasting lighting solutions.

To learn more about how LED lighting can positively impact your business, contact us at The John Riley Group today.

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