Emerging Technologies

How do Innovations Become Industries?

How do Innovations Become Industries?

 Click on the graphic to expand the image.We’ve all seen it happen many times, especially during major events such as the post-thanksgiving Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday sales: gadgets that were expensively priced for early adopters are suddenly affordable and accessible to the average person, which in turn spur a jump in demand. A 55-inch 3D LED TV, for example, that retailed for more than $3000 USD not too long ago now sells for about $1300 (and it comes with a 3D Blu-ray player and 4 sets of 3D glasses!) Similarly, a respectable laptop PC can cost less than $300 USD these days when they were more than $2000 just a couple years back. My 486 desktop computer used to be two grand! Aside from consumer electronics, we’re seeing similar trends of cost reduction in industries such as solar and LED lighting. A photovoltaic (PV) solar module that used to cost more than $5 per watt five years ago now goes for about $1.50 per watt. LED light bulbs for general lighting sold for more than $40 per bulb in hardware stores two years ago now sell for less than $20, and I am sure they will be comparably priced with today’s CFL bulb in the near future.So how do these incredibly technologically advanced products become so affordable? The answer is technology and scale.
Applied Materials

OLED Displays: Why All The Fuss?

Active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays have been available on high-end smartphones for a while now, and there has been a lot of speculation about when we’ll start to see tablet devices equipped the same screen technology. I would like to take a closer look at why AMOLED technology is so hotly anticipated.OLED displays use an alternative pixel-lighting mechanism compared to liquid crystal display (LCD) - a mechanism that is simpler in concept and offers advantages over LCD, but introduces numerous technological challenges that display manufacturers are working to overcome.
LED MES: Sometimes Less is More

LED MES: Sometimes Less is More

Below is a brief excerpt of my most recent article on LED manufacturing-execution systems in LEDs Magazine. While an MES for LED fabrication offers a vast array of functional possibilities, my advice is to start with an out-of-the-box solution.“Lately we’ve been spending a lot of time with LED manufacturers who are looking to purchase a manufacturing software system. Some already have basic components of a system and want to round out their capability with additional features. Others have some disparate data systems and are looking toward an integrated manufacturing-execution system (MES) to provide some holistic data management, equipment management and manufacturing tracking.There is a lot of easily accessible information available on the Internet, in trade magazines and at conferences and events to help rank MES providers and provide key points to consider during the purchase and implementation processes. This includes advice about handling the potential pitfalls and challenges of MES selection and deployment. However, I’d like to touch on just one very key point that is particularly important to the LED manufacturer: Focus on minimizing customization or feature improvements during initial MES deployment.”
Applied Materials

Heat is a Terrible Thing to Waste

World-wide energy consumption is expected to increase by 40% over the next 20 years, and it is not exactly clear where all this additional energy is going to come from. Equally as puzzling is the surprising fact that most of the energy we produce is lost to the atmosphere as waste heat.So far, there have been very few compelling solutions for capturing this waste heat and turning it back into useable energy.
Applied Materials

LED 150mm: Is this an important inflection point?

A lot more news has been published recently about large LED wafer production. LEDs Magazine reported that Philips Lumileds and Lextar Electronics are now running production on 150-mm wafers and that there is another un-named Asian company using 150-mm sapphire wafers supplied by Rubicon Technology. Rubicon also recently announced the availability of 300-mm Sapphire wafers for LED production. All this makes me think that this is only the first wave in what will be a deluge of announcements for large wafer size production in LED.These announcements got me thinking about the technology that will be required to support production on these larger size wafers. Is there something small wafer manufacturers can leverage to derive some of the benefits of the larger wafers before they actually transition to these in their factories?
LEDs Provide Dramatic Performance and Energy Savings for Lighting

LEDs Provide Dramatic Performance and Energy Savings for Lighting

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) look great. They have a long lifetime. They are environmentally benign. And if that weren’t enough, LEDs used for displays and illumination save serious amounts of energy compared to the incumbent technology they aim to replace.LEDs consume so much less energy that governments around the world are phasing out the use of incandescent bulbs. The implication of this is huge for energy savings. A new report released by the Department of Energy analyzed market segments where LEDs are competing or are poised to compete with traditional light sources (e.g., incandescent and fluorescent) for general illumination applications, outdoor lighting, and consumer electronic displays. The report findings include the following powerful statistics:
 Let there be light (energy-efficient light that is)!

Let there be light (energy-efficient light that is)!

Several recent newspaper articles called attention to California’s “ban” on inefficient incandescent bulbs. In reality, what took place on January 1, 2011 was the first stage of California’s early implementation of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which requires incandescent lamps to be more energy efficient. The standards do not ban the manufacture of traditional incandescent lamps, but do require that they be replaced with more energy-efficient versions that produce as much light as the phased-out lamps.
LED Automation Software: Understanding the Process Through Data is an Important First Step

LED Automation Software: Understanding the Process Through Data is an Important First Step

Previously, I wrote about how LED manufacturers were striving to shorten the time between initiating the LED manufacturing process and measuring their performance in an effort to improve the product yields and possibly even boost LED performance.Certainly one of the keys to making this possible is having rapid access to manufacturing data. There are many ways to gather data for analysis by the process engineers.