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The Global Energy Prize annually honors outstanding achievements in energy research and technology from around the world that are helping address the world’s various and pressing energy challenges.

The Global Energy Prize laureate bets on lasers to replace LED

The 2015 Global Energy Prize laureate Shuji Nakamura, the inventor of blue LED, says laser diodes are the future of lighting – and have compelling advantages over LED.

The award winning Nakamura, acknowledged “for the invention, commercialization and development of energy-efficient white LED-lighting technology”, is now working on the potential visible laser sources. According to him, the technology has unique performance properties such as collimated output and waveguide delivery. Moreover, it provides compelling advantages over LED, OLED, and legacy sources.

“Laser diodes are droop-free, and can be combined with phosphors to safely produce highly directional output with superior delivered lumens per watt compared to other light sources”,- says Mr. Nakamura and adds the tech is a great opportunity for next lighting.

Laser lighting is already used for automobile headlamps at BMW and Audi, because the laser diode’s efficiency is ten times higher than that of the LED headlamp. The radiation distance of a laser diode headlamp is almost 700 meters, whereas LED headlamp is only 300 meters, and current automobile headlamps are only 100 meters.

Shuji Nakamura admits that there is still some way to go before laser diode technology will reach its full potential: “We can make highly efficient lighting in the near future, but we still have to work very hard to make the laser diodes highly efficient. I think this will be a huge opportunity in the future,” he said.

Visible laser light sources are based on its proprietary and patented semi-polar GaN laser diodes, combined with advanced phosphor technology.  These laser light sources provide novel properties compared with other light sources by combining the benefits of solid-state illumination such as minimal power consumption and long lifetime, with the highly directional output that has been possible only with legacy technology.

Because the laser light is focused to a small spot on the phosphor and converted to white light, the  light sources enable safe, highly collimated white light output, ‘vastly superior’ optical control with miniature optics and reflectors, along with high efficiency fibre optic transport and glare-free waveguide delivery. 

Shuji Nakamura presumes initial markets will be in applications such as architectural, hospitality, retail, security, entertainment, and automotive.

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