[Lighting Fair] Key Figures Discuss Future of LED, OLED Lights

Mar 6, 2009
Satoshi Ookubo, Nikkei Electronics
The panel discussion. Shuji Nakamura, Junji Kido and Tsutomu Ochiai from right to left.
The panel discussion. Shuji Nakamura, Junji Kido and Tsutomu Ochiai from right to left.
[Click to enlarge image]

A seminar titled, "LED and organic EL pave the road to the future of illumination," took place at Lighting Fair 2009, which is taking place at Tokyo Big Site from March 3 to 6, 2009.

The panel discussion was participated by Shuji Nakamura, a professor of the University of California at Santa Barbara, a developer of blue LED and a leader in the research of GaN-based light-emitting element and Junji Kido, who leads the research of the organic EL as a professor of Yamagata University Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The international conference hall at Tokyo Big Site was crowded with listeners. The panelists discussed possibilities as well as barriers that interfere with the promotion of LED lights and organic EL lights. The panel discussion was coordinated by lighting designer Tsutomu Ochiai, head of M&O Design Office.

Concerned about the "Galapagos Effect" (isolation from the global market)

The Lighting Fair is held every two years, but this year's fair is different from previous ones in that the site is full of LED lights. The discussion was started with comments on the exhibition site by Nakamura and Kido.

"More than 90% of the exhibited items are LED lights," Nakamura said. "I was surprised because this exhibition is quite different from the previous ones."

He also said that 20 to 30 % of the exhibits were LED lights and existing light sources including fluorescent lights were the main exhibits at an exhibition of lighting devices he visited two or three years ago in the US.

Nakamura expects that luminance efficiency of white LEDs will be enhanced by at least 50% in two to three years, judging from the progress in the research and development of white LEDs.

"Then, more people will show interest in LED lights," he said. "As a person involved with LEDs, I feel very happy about that."

In a speech delivered prior to the panel discussion, he said, "It is possible that the luminance efficiency will reach 200 to 250lm/W in two to three years."

"Fluorescent lights were the main players at the exhibition four years ago," Kido said. "Then, the number of LED lights increased two years ago. And this year's show can be called an LED Fair."

He also said, "I wonder if organic EL lights can catch up with LED lights," pointing out the rapid progress in the development of LED light technologies.

In his speech delivered prior to the panel discussion, Kido said that organic EL lights have been steadily evolving in terms of luminance efficiency and lifetime and that the research and development of them are two to three years behind those of white LED lights.

While talking about the rapid evolution of LED lights, he expressed concern in respect to business model. He is worried that the Japanese LED light market might become like the Galapagos Islands, where species evolved differently.

The white LED technology certainly was born in Japan, but Japanese lighting device manufacturers are "not prepared to enter foreign markets," Kido said.

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