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Dec 4th, 2007
EPIC Comments on the LED Business
> Thomas P. Pearsall, Secretary General European Photonics Industry Consortium
A Master’s degree at the University of London and a Ph. D. from Cornell University, Tom worked at Bell Laboratories, Thomson/CSF. In 1990, Pearsall was named the first Boeing-Johnson chair of semiconductor technology at the University of Washington and contributed to the development of the Human Interface Laboratory in Seattle. He joined the CNRS/Max-Planck-Institut in Grenoble. From 1998 to 2002, he directed research on planar photonic crystals at Corning in Fontainebleau, France. In 2003, he started EPIC.
EPIC is owned and operated by its 80 members. EPIC’s mission is to build sustainable growth for European Photonics Industries. "The most important measures of our success in executing this mission are: (1) Increasing revenues and profits of our members, (2) The growth of employment in this industry sector in Europe, and (3) The number of members of the EPIC organisation." EPIC has been a major contributor to the launch of the European Technology Platform Photonics.
LED business profitability is eroding every years because of the strong price pressure, how to renew with a 2-digits growth rate
> Thomas P. Pearsall
The key to me would be the development of products with defendable margins. Price erosion is happening because there is low cost manufacturing and diffusion of technical knowledge, to be sure. But price erosion also occurs because there are few if any standards in the business. Thus you can always make an LED cheaper by cutting corners on performance. European manufacturers need to think about products that incorporate LEDs instead of thinking about LED chips. Photonic integration that creates extra added-value seems to be the right direction One example might be intelligent LEDs; another could come from combining LEDs with advanced design and styling. This last direction is being exploited by the automotive lighting business
What are the key criteria to make the LED the unavoidable technology for tomorrow general lighting
> Thomas P. Pearsall
White is the standard in lighting because of the sun -- light from fire. But LEDs are cool lighting sources. The key criteria from my viewpoint would be exploitation of colour and energy efficiency. The LED is the only lighting source that can do both. By colour, I don't mean that one day we will learn to prefer reading under a blue lamp. It is the ability of the LED to explore all the different shades of white light, ( pearl white, cream white, ice white, etc) and to have lamps that can tune from one colour of white scheme to another to create the best psychological effect in the lighting scheme. Lighting designers are only starting to understand these possibilities
How strong is the European LED industry? What are European core competencies compared to the Rest of the World
> Thomas P. Pearsall
The European lighting industry is poised to take a near majority share of the world-wide lighting market. I think the strength of Osram and Philips at present is vertical integration from components to major lighting systems. Such organisation works well if you know your customers' needs and the applications are not changing. These structures are not so good at responding to breakthrough applications or disruptive technologies. If lighting needs and customer desires do not change very much in the next 10 years, then the European position looks very strong. This is a likely scenario. A possible paradigm shift could come from OLEDs. These are surface area lighting sources by nature. OLED lamps will look very different from LED lamps: lighting surfaces rather than point sources. Design innovations from the OLED side have the potential to destabilize the industry, giving birth to agile fabless design companies working with OLED lighting foundries in the far east, and marketing through large retail distribution networks. The success of LEDs and OLEDs in general lighting depends critically on successfully increasing the desire for the presence of much more lighting in everyone's life. If this additional demand is not created through the invention to novel lighting applications, then the future does not look so bright, both literally and figuratively speaking. LED lamps would only replace incandescent and fluorescent lamps in conventional lighting applications, leading to a rather modest growth rate for the industry.
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