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Comparison between blue lasers and light‐emitting diodes for future solid‐state lighting

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Solid‐state lighting (SSL) is now the most efficient source of high color quality white light ever created. Nevertheless, the blue InGaN light‐emitting diodes (LEDs) that are the light engine of SSL still have significant performance limitations. Foremost among these is the decrease in efficiency at high input current densities widely known as “efficiency droop.” Efficiency droop limits input power densities, contrary to the desire to produce more photons per unit LED chip area and to make SSL more affordable. Pending a solution to efficiency droop, an alternative device could be a blue laser diode (LD). LDs, operated in stimulated emission, can have high efficiencies at much higher input power densities than LEDs can. In this article, LEDs and LDs for future SSL are explored by comparing: their current state‐of‐the‐art input‐power‐density‐dependent power‐conversion efficiencies; potential improvements both in their peak power‐conversion efficiencies and in the input power densities at which those efficiencies peak; and their economics for practical SSL. Solid‐state lighting (SSL) is now the most efficient source of high color quality white light ever created. Nevertheless, the blue InGaN light‐emitting diodes (LEDs) that are the light engine of SSL still have significant performance limitations. Foremost among these is the decrease in efficiency at high input current densities widely known as “efficiency droop.” Efficiency droop limits input power densities, contrary to the desire to produce more photons per unit LED chip area and to make SSL more affordable. Pending a solution to efficiency droop, an alternative device could be a blue laser diode (LD). LDs, operated in stimulated emission, can have high efficiencies at much higher input power densities than LEDs can. In this article, LEDs and LDs for future SSL are explored by comparing: their current state‐of‐the‐art input‐power‐density‐dependent power‐conversion efficiencies; potential improvements both in their peak power‐conversion efficiencies and in the input power densities at which those efficiencies peak; and their economics for practical SSL.
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Keywords: AlInGaN; Auger recombination; III‐nitride; InGaN; LDs; LEDs; PC‐LEDs; Solid‐state lighting; areal chip cost; blue lasers; cost of light; efficiency droop; gain; heat management; heat sink; laser diodes; light‐emitting diodes; phosphor‐converted LEDs; power‐conversion efficiency; quantum efficiency; semiconductor laser; semipolar GaN; thermal management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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