Innovation Makes LEDs Smaller, More Efficient

Despite their relatively high upfront cost, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are consistently hailed as the next generation of efficient lighting technology. Most experts agree there is no question that LEDs will take the lead in general service lighting. It’s simply a matter of when, and watching the technology develop on the way toward that end has provided much excitement in the lighting community.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid Physics IAF, in Freiburg, Germany, is offering a new development. Researchers claim they’ve found a way to make LED lamps more compact while supplying more light, and the key is a semiconductor made of gallium nitride.

The reason Fraunhofer researchers looked at this chemical composition is because of LEDs’ strict demands on a constant supply of power from its driver. According to Fraunhofer, components made with gallium nitride can operate at higher currents, voltages and temperatures than silicon transistors, which are traditionally used in LED drivers.

Beyond being superior at managing LEDs’ heat challenges, Fraunhofer also claims the gallium nitride transistors have an advantage in their ability to switch at high frequencies, resulting in smaller coils and condensers necessary for energy storage.

Fraunhofer was then able to achieve more than two times the light output of a typical LED lamp.

“One shouldn’t underestimate the role played by the efficiency of LED drivers, as this is key to saving energy,” said Michael Kunzer, Ph.D., group manager at Fraunhofer, in a press release. “In principle, the higher the light yield and efficiency, the lower energy consumption is.”

LED lamps are already extremely efficient, but innovations like these could change the lighting industry. Electrical contractors and lighting designers should keep an eye on this rapidly changing technology.

About the Author

Timothy Johnson


Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.

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