LED balance of system trends: Patents in the remote phosphor technology space

July 16, 2012 — In the July/August issue of Solid State Technology’s sister publication, LEDs Magazine, Lily Li, patent strategist at IP Checkups, examines remote phosphors for light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, in “Patents compete for priority in the remote-phosphor LED technology space.” Phosphors modulate the color of LED-produced light. For better thermal reliability and system-level design flexibility, LED chips are grouped in modules or bulbs with remote phosphor-coated ceramic plate.

Remote-phosphor technology for LED lighting applications is a hotbed of innovation, with companies such as Intematix and Cree leading the way, Li says. “Remote phosphor addresses a fundamental pain point in the solid-state lighting industry and the one main barrier to widespread adoption of LEDs: cost, cost, cost. But intellectual property concerns cloud the picture for remote-phosphor usage.”

Li considers the advances in remote phosphor technology from Cree and Intematix, noting that Philips has an impressive remote phosphor technology roster, but the company also has access to Cree’s patents, and therefore was not included. “Given the potential size of the LED lighting market, and the revolutionary nature of remote phosphors to the industry, a battle already rages on for ownership of the fundamental technology behind remote phosphors” between Cree and Intematix.

Li also explains why remote phosphors are used and how they change the cost composition of an LED product.

Figure from the article: Company comparison of phosphor technologies and applications. Publications from 01/01/2009 to 02/01/2012.

Read this article, published in the July/August 2012 issue of our sister publication, LEDs Magazine, here.

Also read: In "Phosphor trends for LED manufacturing," Barclays Capital shares some take-aways from the Intertech Pira Phosphor Summit, touching on LED efficiency and quality from phosphors, color mixing, remote phosphors, and silicone encapsulants for LED packages.

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