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CEA – Revolutionary 3D LED technology: more light, less cost

EARTO Innovation Awards 2016 – Impact Expected Category

First Prize

  LEDs have many advantages over traditional light sources: they are more efficient, emitting more light while consuming less energy and with a longer life-time. A broad LED deployment would therefore have huge environmental and economic benefits, but their high retail price is still an important barrier. This is why EARTO Member CEA has developed the wireLED™ technology, a new generation of 3D LEDs with drastically reduced production costs. This new LED technology should be commercialized by CEA spin-off Aledia in 2017.   Lighting represents 20% of all electricity usage today. The development of LEDs would thus have a major environmental and financial impact. Indeed, replacing all traditional lamps by LEDs would reduce the energy consumption in Europe by 9%, equivalent to €60bn, and the carbon emission by 42m tons/year. Moreover, the LED lighting market is forecasted to grow from €15bn today to €65bn in 2020, representing 60% of the worldwide lighting market. Nevertheless, as a prerequisite for such perspectives, LEDs’ prices must be significantly reduced.  
    The LED lighting market is forecasted to grow to €65bn in 2020, representing ~60% of total lighting market
    Replacing all traditional lamps by LEDs would reduce Europe’s energy consumption by 9% or €60bn and carbon emission by 42m tons/year
    By end 2017, Aledia should commercialize 3D LEDs at 50% below average selling price
  High production capacity at low cost The CEA developed the next generation of LEDs, affordable to everyone thanks to a high production capacity at low cost. Indeed, this technology enables the use of a larger and more economical substrate than for the exiting 2D LEDs, reducing the production cost per individual LED chip. Material costs are also two third lower than for conventional LEDs. Furthermore, while 2D LEDs need specific manufacturing plants, this new technology is fully compatible with high-volume manufacturing in existing silicon foundries: no additional investment is needed. 3D LEDs should therefore be about four times cheaper to produce than conventional LEDs.   Revolutionary performance advantages Additionally, in going 3D, LEDs produce three times more light with lower risk of defects. This technology also follows the advanced semiconductor industry which makes 3D LEDs easy to integrate with existing electronics. Furthermore, while today’s LEDs require expensive phosphors to obtain white light, which greatly reduces efficiency, 3D LEDs will be phosphor-free and will have a wider spectrum of performance. They can for instance produce coloured light and obtain different types of white light using the same material.   Opening up a wide range of possibilities Aledia LEDs enable smart lighting and many other possibilities. They can be integrated in all areas, from domestic lighting to the automotive sector, or public buildings. New ALEDIA investors, IKEA and VALEO, show the interest of these completely different market sectors. CEA spin-off Aledia received exclusive worldwide rights to all CEA patents on the 3D LED technology applied to lighting. The first Aledia product will be commercialized by the end of 2017, and Aledia expects revenues of €300m to €400m in 2027, reaching then 5 to 7% market share in the high value-added professional lighting world market.  
More information about this innovation
          The CEA – Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission – is a French government-funded RTO and a prominent player in the ERA. The CEA is active in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defence & security, information technologies and health technologies. The CEA maintains a cross-disciplinary culture of engineers and researchers, building on the synergies between fundamental and technological research.