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issue: October 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Electronics Report
Bright Ideas


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By combining a unique light extraction technology with a solid-state light source, a new edge-lighting solution allows engineers to design LCD TVs with a handful of LEDs.

The high-efficiency of GLT’s MicroLens™ patented molded light guide technology is said to allow PhlatLight™ technology from Luminus to be used in large LCD TV flat-panel displays.

That’s quite a departure from the hundreds or sometimes thousands of LEDs often required to backlight LCD TVs that are 40 inches (approx. 102 cm) diagonal and larger. But according to Global Lighting Technologies (GLT) and Luminus Devices, their combined solution not only significantly reduces part count, it allows for a thinner backlight, while maintaining the performance qualities of other backlighting technologies.
“GLT’s patented MicroLens™ light guides, combined with Luminus’ PhlatLight™ chipset technology, enable large-size LCD panels to be edge-lit, as opposed to direct backlighting,” explains David DeAgazio, director of Sales Worldwide at GLT (Brecksville, Ohio, U.S.). “LCD TVs that formerly required hundreds or even thousands of LEDs to backlight can now be edge-lit with literally a few dozen LEDs or less. The result is dramatically reduced LED count and simplified color and thermal management compared to conventional LED-based backlighting solutions.”
Both technologies are innovative in their own right, but together, the companies claim they are offering the large display market something truly unique. In fact, the two technologies require each other to effectively operate in LCD TV applications. “One technology without the other could not achieve the efficiency and brightness necessary to successfully backlight an LCD TV,” DeAgazio explains. “Together, they’re a perfect match.”
Based on research done at MIT, Luminus (Woburn, Massachusetts, U.S.) developed its chipset, a new type of solid-state light source that uses patented photonic lattice structures. Each chipset contains a single red, green and blue die, reducing the number of individual LEDs required. While the technology had been effective in micro display projection applications, it required an innovative backlighting solution to penetrate the booming large display market.
This is where GLT’s light guides come in. The company’s solution uses a pixel-based light extraction technology in which micro-optical elements are molded directly into a light guide to optimize the amount of collimated light. This is said to increase the efficiency of the optical system and in turn, allows the benefits of PhlatLight technology to extend to large LCD flat panel displays.
The combined technologies are said to result in LCD TVs with a brightness of 8,500 cd/m2 + at the backlight surface and ultra-thinness at less than 15 mm thick for the entire backlight module. “This technology has been designed for ease of integration into existing LCD TV designs,” DeAgazio notes. “Compared to direct backlighting, it is thinner, and with all LEDs located on only one or two edges of the backlight, passive thermal management is possible and effective.”
The edge-lit units are modular and scalable to screen sizes 50 inches (approx. 127 cm) and larger. According to DeAgazio, the modular approach makes intelligent progressive scanning possible and with fewer LEDs, color management is easier. Reduced part count also means reduced production costs. “This is not possible with any other type of LED backlighting technology,” DeAgazio claims.
The companies unveiled a working prototype in June. The combined technology is expected to be market-ready in 2007.

 

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