UV LEDs Challenging $500 Million UV Lamp Market

UV LEDs are reportedly beginning to challenge the traditional $500M UV lamp business. The report notes that the UV lighting business is a market of about $500 million with traditional UV lamp technology. Thanks to its compactness, lower cost of ownership and environmental friendly composition, UV LEDs are expected to replace traditional lamps and also open the door to many new applications, especially portable ones.

In 2008, LEDs in the UV A/B spectrum were the dominant device in the sub-400nm applications. More than 90% of the UV LED market (outside of R&D) was covered by UV curing, counterfeit detection, medical and instrumentation applications requiring UV A/B sources. The remaining 10% was allocated to Air & Water purification with again a great portion of UV A-based LED source for photocatalytic air purification, according to the report. UVA LEDs dominate today but UVC LEDs will lead the market tomorrow, the report notes.

The report says Market size is big ($120M) and with growth of about +10 % due to the advantage of UV curing technology over traditional technology (speed, green coating). Many new players have emerged over the past 5 years at the system and LED packaging level. The power output available has greatly increased and several Watts / cm² will be available in 2009-2010.

There were high hopes about UVC applications two years ago but real applications are still missing due to significant technical and economic challenges for UV LEDs: power output, efficiency, lifetime and cost. Hence UVC players are now focusing on UVA. The first UVC LED applications are mostly for scientific analytical instruments. It is expected that the first large-scale sales for the disinfection market will appear in 2010 on existing markets and also new Point of Use or portable applications where compactness is a key issue.

Growth of the UVC market is strongly connected to the availability of AlN bulk substrates that could theoretically multiply by 100 the LED chip optical power output. Several players expect to provide AlN wafers in volume at the end of 2009. Hence, time to market for UVC applications based on AlN would probably be in 2011-2012.

The report notes there will be a strong trend where AlN companies are now extending their activities to UV LEDs to capture more added-value along the supply-chain. According to the high potential UVA LED business in UV curing, augmented by the growing market demand in water & air disinfection, it is forecasted that a cumulated $250M UV LED market in 2015.

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