Moving to a brighter world

The world appears to be on a path to becoming a brighter, cooler place, though it’s not quite what songs from the Age of Aquarius predicted. LEDs are in the process of transforming lighting, replacing incandescents and curly bulbs in a huge diversity of energy-efficient products.
After reading sluggish economic news on a wintry morning, perusing the predictions for LEDs is a welcome day brightener. The overall solid-state lighting market will top $33 billion by 2013, according to NextGen Research. Strategies Unlimited predicts that the high brightness LED market will have a CAGR of 24%, nearly tripling 2008’s level by hitting $14.9 billion in 2013.
That growth is driven by many markets. LEDs were more than a quarter of automotive lighting last year, according to Frost & Sullivan. DisplaySearch predicts that by 2011, more than half the LCD backlighting applications will use LEDs, skyrocketing to 78% in 2015.
In another field, cities like Seattle, Reston Virginia and San Jose, are all replacing streetlights with LEDs. They are brighter and use less energy while also letting city managers dim lights or set them in strobe for a parade or emergency.
Board makers and assemblers who can produce boards and modules for these will be riding some fast-moving coattails. Though LEDs are common, there are still a lot of challenges to producing boards that are cost effective.
As LEDs become mainstream, the next emerging technology may be OLEDs. Optical LEDs may expand beyond their role as cell phone backlights if manufacturers can figure out how to make large panels cheaply. Researchers at two large Japanese suppliers, Sumitomo and Idemitsu Kosan, both predict that by 2015, they’ll be able to compete with LCDs in the TV market.

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