Soraa, an LED venture company established by Shuji Nakamura, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), as a co-founder, began to explore the Japanese market. At present, Soraa's LED lights have been sold in the Japanese market through Ushio Light Source . In addition, it is also planned to open a Japanese office by the spring of 2015. Soraa plans to expand its sales in the Japanese market by virtue of the characteristics of LED lights and Nakamura's popularity after winning the Nobel Prize.
Soraa was founded by three UCSB professors, including Nakamura. Sales of LED lights began in 2012, and after about two and a half years, sales are now about 4 billion yen. From 2013 to 2014, sales rapidly increased by about 2 times. Currently has about 300 employees.
The secret to Soraa's rapid growth lies in the company's LED lights. The company's LED lamps are characterized by "high color rendering index, which can emit beautiful white light close to natural light" (Soraa). The company's white LEDs are made using a combination of red, blue and green phosphors on a violet LED chip . As a result, all light in the visible wavelength range can be output, so the color rendering index is relatively high. The company highlights that the red color rendering index "R9" is particularly high. The average color rendering index "Ra" is also as high as 95. Ra is an average value from "R1" to "R8".
Ordinary white LEDs are made by combining yellow fluorescent material on a blue LED chip. Therefore, the wavelengths of emitted light are uneven, so it is difficult to increase Ra.
In addition, Soraa said that the company's LED lamp also has the following characteristics, that is, the brightness of the light (beam) emitted from the LED lamp is relatively uniform, and the shape of the beam can be freely changed. In order to change the beam shape, an optical element called "SNAP" is installed in the light emitting part of the lamp. In order to facilitate the removal of SNAP, a magnet is placed in the removal part. SNAP can not only change the beam shape, but also change the color temperature.
Luminous efficiency increases at an average annual rate of 30%
Soraa also highlighted the rapid improvement in luminous efficiency of the company's products. Although the luminous efficiency of the company's white LED lamp is in the process of development, it is currently increasing at an average annual rate of about 30%. Soraa confidently stated that "the growth rate exceeds that of ordinary white LED lamps using blue LED chips." Taking the variety with Ra of 95 and color temperature of 3000K as an example, the luminous efficiency is currently about 50-60lm/W. It is expected to maintain a growth rate of about 30% in 2015, and it is estimated to reach 70-80lm/W.
Purple LEDs not only have high luminous efficiency, but also improve the efficiency quickly, because purple LEDs are made of GaN substrates. GaN-based semiconductor layers are stacked on a GaN substrate to produce a purple LED chip, so the crystal quality of the GaN-based semiconductor layer is relatively high. This is the so-called "GaN on GaN" LED.
Ordinary blue LED chips are fabricated on a sapphire substrate. Since GaN-based semiconductors differ from sapphire in terms of lattice constants, crystal defects called "dislocations" tend to occur. On the other hand, if GaN substrates are used, there is almost no difference in lattice constants, so crystal defects hardly occur. Compared with products using sapphire substrates, the dislocation density can be reduced to about 1/1000.
Using triangular LED chips
The shape of the LED chip is also unique. Ordinary LED chips are in the shape of a quadrangular (square prism), while Soraa's chips are triangular (triangular prism). As a result, the efficiency (light extraction efficiency) at which the light emitted from the light-emitting layer of the LED chip diffuses to the outside of the chip increases to about 90%. The triangular shape is possible because of the high crystal quality. The company said, "If the crystal quality is low, the corners of the triangles may be damaged or light may not be sufficient." That is, the use of a GaN substrate improves the crystal quality, thereby realizing a triangular chip.
Soraa said that the high color rendering index, beautiful white light, uniform brightness, and high degree of freedom in beam shape have all been well received, and have been adopted by lighting designers, hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. It has been adopted by hotels and the like in Japan.
Soraa also intends to expand its product line. In addition to the previous LED lights, it is also planned to start selling module products equipped with heat sinks to lighting fixture manufacturers from February 2015.
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