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Phosphors & Quantum Dots 2017 - LED Downconverters for Lighting & Displays

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couv flyer phosphor

Volume saturation, price pressure and a shifting intellectual property landscape are forcing the LED phosphor industry into a rationalization period, with innovation key for survival


Key patents held by Nichia and Osram have started expiring in 2017 and will continue to do so in 2018. While both companies have since built on those patents and created broad families of intellectual property (IP), it will become much more difficult for them to prevent competitors from using garnet phosphors in their LED packages.

As a result, phosphor families such as silicates and yellow nitrides (LYSN) are expected to lose market share as LED packagers transition to garnets. The switch will especially affect silicates, which are perceived to have lower performance than yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) and other garnets, However, some of the most recent silicate compositions developed by tier-1 suppliers are now matching YAG performance but come at a premium price. Leading phosphor suppliers with a strong focus on silicate materials must therefore diversify their portfolio. They need to create new silicate compositions with unique features to meet specific demands in various high added value lighting applications.

LYSN might fare better in the long term. Yellow nitrides have exhibited steady and continuous performance improvement since entering the market in 2010. The material is already matching garnet performance in most aspects and, being less mature, still offers significant room for improvement. Attractive features of yellow nitride include a lower infrared tail that could translate to higher efficiency compared to YAG. Leaders in nitride phosphors could therefore find a new growth driver as the red nitride market reaches saturation.

Yole Evolution of the competitive landscape


For wide color gamut (WCG) TVs and monitors, potassium fluorosilicates (PFS/KSF) and phosphors in general are being challenged by quantum dots (QDs), which are gaining rapid acceptance. In 2017, QDs can be found in 47% of WCG TVs. QDs deliver the best color gamut and higher efficiency, allowing LCD TV manufacturers to deliver improved image quality rivaling that of OLEDs in many regards without having to invest in new fabs.

QDs are therefore set to dominate the rapidly emerging market for high performance WCG TVs and monitors. However, the emergence of a narrow-band green phosphor with the appropriate center wavelength could challenge this dominance and disrupt the market.

QDs have also made significant progress toward “on-chip” configurations. Lumileds and Pacific Light Technology have demonstrated the first commercial grade, high color rendering index (CRI) mid-power LEDs based on high-stability QDs. However, more work is needed to reduce the cadmium content to levels meeting international regulations on heavy metals. The technology could be ready for 2019 but whether or not LED makers will be willing to adopt a downconverter solution containing cadmium will depend on the performance gap that those QD-based LEDs will deliver compared to traditional phosphors.

In displays new phosphor compositions have also rapidly gained market share. After the rise of green silicon aluminum oxygen and nitrogen compounds (SiAlONs), red nitrides are being displaced by PFS which has already captured a 34% share in WCG TVs.


Yole Phosphor material volume share evolution 2016 2022



After five years of cut-throat competition that has driven prices to levels that nobody would have believed sustainable just a few years back, phosphor prices halted their free fall in 2016.

The most mature compositions such as garnets have reached bottom. However, nitride, oxynitride and KSF still have room for significant decline that will offset modest volume growth as the LED market reaches saturation toward the end of the decade.

In this environment, we expect further rationalization of the industry landscape with tier-2 and -3 companies in China exiting the business. Most of those companies don’t have any elements of differentiation, be it on performance or manufacturing cost, that would allow them to survive in this business in the mid- and long-term. However, a handful of domestic players such as Grirem or Yuji Science are emerging as long term credible competitors alongside established leaders such as Intematix and Mitsubishi Chemical.

For most phosphor suppliers, the name of the game is to keep reducing costs as volumes increase and revenue remain essentially flat. However, the LED industry still has unmet needs in terms of phosphors and new trends and applications such as high CRI lighting and human-centric lighting are generating new demands for efficiency and spectral engineering.

Companies able to develop and commercialize new narrow-band red and, to a lesser extent, green materials could last long-term if they can secure their innovations with strong intellectual property. Other needs, such as good cyan phosphors and red ceramics, could enable more companies, including new entrants, to succeed in this challenging market.

Despite increasing commoditization, the LED phosphor industry therefore still offers opportunities for innovative companies. While price ranges for established compositions will narrow, a significant gap between low end and top performers will persist. This will enable some suppliers to keep capturing significant added value through improved material performance, consistency, ability to deliver highly customized products and strong IP.

Yole Trends in conversion schemes for lighting 


The report provides the reader with a comprehensive review of the LED downconverter markets, technology trends and competitive landscape:

  • Requirements for lighting and displays
  • Configurations and dispensing methods. How they’re impacted by LED packaging technologies
  • Trends in phosphor compositions. How application requirements and IP constrain impact composition choices
  • How emerging applications in lighting are driving demand for better phosphors
  • Competitive landscape: key players, price trends, supply and demand
  • How to survive in a challenging market with saturating volumes and strong price pressure



  • Updated analysis of the market and technology trends for traditional LED phosphors
  • Overview of recent trends in the solid state lighting industry such as high color rendering indices, human centric lighting, horticultural lighting and laser lighting
  • How those trends are bringing more demand for LED downconverters and driving innovation
  • Detailed analysis of downconverter requirements for displays


Table of contents

Executive summary 14

LED downconverters: overview and basic requirements 50

Phosphors 51

> How to make white light?
> Key requirements for led downconverters
> Temperature stability
> Particle size distribution and morphology
> Angle color consistency
> Textured phosphors

Binders 62

> Thermal conductivity
> Optical index
> Established materials: silicones
> Desired characteristics
> Emerging binder materials

Color quality metrics 73

> Correlated color temperature (CCT)
> Color rendering index (CRI)
> Cri limitations
> IES TM-30-15
> CRI vs IES TM-30-15 and current status

LED market trends 84

> LED packages
> LED industry growth cycles
> Maturation of an industry
> Growth strategies
> Recent evolution in the led packaging industry
> LED market trends – displays

Lighting 92

> Evolution of the solid state lighting industry
> Spectral engineering
> Thrust areas for higher added value
> Phosphor central wavelength tunability
> General lighting applications
> Spectral engineering
> High cri efficiency losses
> Near UV-violet chip and RBG phosphor solutions
> Spectral engineering example: Nichia, Seoul Semiconductor
> Human centric lighting:
> Circadian rhythms

Horticultural lighting 117

> Effect of wavebands on the plant
> Light source comparison
> Benefit of LEDs for horticultural lighting
> Applications
> Products

Laser and high power density sources 129

> Challenges
> Automotive
> Laser for general lighting

Impact on phosphor requirements 141

> Narrowband downconverters
> Comparison of existing solutions
> Phosphor droop

Requirements for display applications 151

> Color gamut
> Standard LED LCD TVs
> The major color gamut standards
> The UHD alliance
> UHD color gamut requirements
> Structure of an LCD display
> How to deliver BT.2020?
> Downconverter requirements
> Nitride and oxynitrides phosphors
> PFS and KSF phosphors
> Possible limitations of PFS
> Narrowband phosphors in commercial displays
> The quest for a narrowband green phosphor
> Other phosphors in displays
> Quantum dot benefits and implementations
> Quantum dot in backlights: 1D and 2D geometries.
> Color filters in traditional displays
> Quantum dot color filters (QDCF)
> Adoption drivers and barriers
> Comparative performance of LCD, OLED, QD films and QDCF

Downconverter configurations 185

On-chip downconverters 187

> Volume conversion deposition technologies
> Wafer-level coating
> Phosphor sheets
> Ceramic preforms
> Status
> Composite preforms
> Single crystal preforms




Remote downconverters 213

> Benefits and drawbacks
> Reducing downconverter amount
> Performance optimization
> Application trends
> Intellectual property

Phosphor compositions 227

Silicates 242

> Silicates for spectral engineering
> Intellectual property
> Silicate price trends

Nitrides and oxynitrides 249

> Major commercial compositions
> Performance trends
> New compositions
> Carbidonitrides and oxycarbidonitrides
> Supply and performance
> Intellectual property
> Manufacturing and cost aspects
> Nitride and oxynitride price trends


> Challenges
> Performance trends
> Intellectual property
> Competitive landscape
> KSF/PFS price trends

Emerging material families 277

> Mn4+ activated phosphors
> Search for blue/green/cyan phosphors
> New strategies for narrowband red
> Perovskite
> Experimental results

Quantum dots for lighting 286

> Structure and compositions
> Benefits in lighting applications
> Challenges for lighting applications
> Recent developments
> Remaining challenges

Volume and revenue forecast 300

> Challenges: volume quantifications
> 2015 vs 2017 models: chip surface
> 2012-2020 forecast: surface of downconverted LED
> Phosphor quantities per LED chip surface
> Trends in conversion schemes: entry-level displays and WCG displays
> 2017 - 2022 WCG TV technology breakdown
> Trends in lighting: CRI
> CRI vs phosphor blends
> Downconverter material trends
> Focus: PFS
> 2015-2022 phosphor volumes for on-chip conversion
> 2017-2022 material family breakdown
> Remote phosphor hypothesis
> 2015-2022 phosphor volumes for remote configurations
> 2015-2022 total phosphor volumes (RP + on-chip)
> Revenue forecast: challenges and hypothesis.
> 2015-2022 revenue forecast for on-chip conversion
> 2015-2022 total revenue forecast for remote phosphors
(on-chip + remote)
> Quantum dots in displays: 2017-2022 revenue forecast
> Quantum dots in lighting.

Competitive landscape 333

Phosphors 334

> Major phosphor suppliers by location
> Historical perspective and evolution
> Captive market and geographic breakdowns
> Leading companies
> Top 3 phosphor suppliers
> Other leading international suppliers
> Focus on china
> Overview of Chinese phosphor suppliers

Quantum dots (display applications) 353

> Tier-1 players – established, or currently entering the supply chain
> China’s QD ecosystem

Yole Développement company presentation 356

Companies cited

 Asahi Rubber
 Beijing Yuji Science and Technology
 Bright Phosphor Corporation
China Glaze
 Citizen Electronic
 Dalian Luming
 Dow Corning
 General Electric
 GPD Global
 Hangzhou YingHe
 Jiangsu Bree
 Light Polymers

 Mitsubishi Chemical
 Mitsui Kinzoku
 Nitto Denko
 NTK Ceratek
 Pacific Light Technology
  Phosphor Tech
 Seoul Semiconductor
 Techore Synchem
 Toyoda Gosei
 Unity Opto
 Yantai Shield
 Yuanda Phosphors
 ZhongKe XinYuan 























  • A comprehensive market and technology report on LED downconverters
  • Trends in downconverter architectures and dispensing methods including on-chip, remote, phosphor sheets, ceramic preforms, phosphor-on-glass and sol-gel
  • Details status for all major phosphor families such as garnets, silicates, nitride/oxynitrides, potassium fluorosilicate and emerging families
  • Quantum dots in lighting and displays
  • Price trends
  • Phosphor volume and revenue forecast
  • Competitive landscape: leading suppliers, focus on China