tED Magazine at LIGHTFAIR 2015

LIGHTFAIR 2015 has kicked off in New York City. tED magazine will be covering the events with a series of blogs and reports from the Javits Center beginning today and going on all week. Make sure you check in with us every day to learn the latest and the newest technology that is on display at this year’s event.

By Mark Godfrey

The name of the game at Lightfair 2015 is LED and the development of solid state lighting technology into usable, attractive and affordable lighting products. To kick off this year’s week of Lightfair events, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, recipient of the 2014 Noble Prize in Physics for the invention and propagation of the power efficient blue LED chip, was the event keynote speaker. Dr. Namamura’s path to this technology began in the late 1980’s in his effort to find a topic and technology for which no other PHD candidates had pursued research and produced academic scientific papers. The details of his research over 25 years revealed that gallium-nitride could be the foundation for stable, high power, high efficacy and mass produced blue and violet source led chips. After releasing the first viable products in 1996, the technology immediately propagated into consumer electronics such as cell phones, computer screens and TVs, earning Nichia a fortune. The development of white light as functional lighting equipment slowly permeated the electrical construction marketplace and by the mid 2000’s the architectural lighting design community finally started to see functional and affordable lighting products using Dr. Nakamura’s technology.

It is telling that 20 years elapsed between the development of a ground breaking technology and the tipping point at which broad market acceptance finally set in. The architectural lighting industry, evolved from pipe-and-wire infrastructure based industry, is still relatively slow to evolve and promote change. We are still generally installing new technology in old form factors. This does provides some of the benefit of LED technology, namely energy reduction and extended maintenance cycles, but does not tap into the possibilities of a truly solid state technology. Will that remain true as we continue to evolve away from hard wired ON-OFF society into a solid state digital society?

Meanwhile, Dr Nakamura continues to press ahead, this time researching blue LED Laser technology to produce high power white led point sources.

Maybe Moore’s law will strike again and in 10 years we will see the market acceptance of this research.

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