The consortium aims to develop red phosphors for LEDs in order to produce high-quality white light with an unmatched efficiency. Besides Seaborough, the consortium includes the German companies Fraunhofer, FGK, and MJR PharmJet.
Martijn Dekker, CEO of Seaborough, commented the following: “LED lighting is delivering a huge amount of energy savings, but often with a light quality that is not perceived as on par with the legacy light sources that are replaced by LEDs. This is due to the lack of an efficient red phosphor, while red light is needed to complete the color spectrum and ensure good light quality. Seaborough saw the opportunity to solve this problem while developing lucrative businesses for European stakeholders in the emerging industry. Under its leadership, the consortium will develop a new red phosphor based on a fundamentally new technology.”
LEDs are currently stuck with a trade-off between efficiency (energy savings) and color rendering (light quality). In certain cases, this has led to an industry-wide tendency to produce products with a low light quality, emitting a “cold,” blueish light that doesn’t appeal to general consumers. This lack of popularity is endangering LED adoption and the energy savings that people are entitled to.
Martijn van Rheenen, CEO of Momentum Capital, commented the following: “I am proud of our daughter company in convincing the Eurostars jury that Seaborough is on the verge of a breakthrough to further minimize environmental damage by getting the LED color rendering to a level that is acceptable to the general population. At the moment, 19% of global electricity is consumed by lighting. With this new technology, we would be able to reduce that by whole percentage points – a potentially huge energy saving worldwide. It inspires and motivates us to be part of this and change this market for the better.”
Although LEDs have delivered energy savings, many have failed to match the high color quality of legacy light sources. Low color quality, itself a turnoff, also threatens the adoption of LEDs, which is critically important for our earth’s environment. Seaborough’s goal is to solve this problem by developing a phosphor system for white LEDs that delivers the red light via the trivalent-europium ion (Eu3+). Eu3+ has a very narrow emission band that is up to three times more visible to the human eye than the emission of the incumbent red phosphor, CaAlSiN3:Eu2+, a material developed in Japan in 2004. CASN enabled “warm white” (correlated color temperature (CCT) < 4,000K) LEDs but is highly inefficient, outputting much of its radiation into the non-visible infrared. The new material will eliminate the trade-off between efficiency and quality of light color, in turn encouraging the development of high-quality lighting products based on LEDs. The system will be suitable for simple on-LED-chip usage in combination with blue-emitting LEDs for lighting applications. A prototype white LED will be demonstrated at a CCT of 3,000K, achieving a Lumen Equivalent of Radiation (LER) of more than 350 lumens per Watt (lumen/Watt) while maintaining a color rendering index (CRI) of 90 or more. This will result in an efficiency increase of 15+% lumen/Watt, or a 15+% premium for LED products that use this technology (increased lumen/€ value). Seaborough’s EuroLED creates a unique “watershed event” in the development of materials for solid-state lighting. The previous breakthrough in phosphors for warm white LEDs, CASN, occurred 14 years ago and failed to deliver the promises of solid-state lighting. EuroLED, on the other hand, ushers in a new era of increased energy savings for LED lighting while preserving high-quality white light for general illumination.