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GELcore Sees Light in High- Brightness LEDs

Thomas J Pozda
Director, Marketing & Product Management, GELcore LLC, Ohio, USA

In February 1999, lighting company GE Lighting of the US decided to enter higher technology markets so they established a joint venture, GELcore LLC, with Emcore Corp. The aim of the new company is to take GE’s core technology in white phosphor designs into the high-brightness light emitting diode (LED) business; almost a billion US dollar market. Thomas J Pozda, discusses the company’s strategies and when the first products will be released.

NEA: Please explain more about GELcore, which was formed to allow GE Lighting to get into new markets and technologies.

Pozda: GELcore LLC is a joint venture between GE Lighting and Emcore Corp. GE Lighting has a 51% share of the joint venture, and it has controlling interest. GELcore has been established as a entrepreneurial start-up company. It has attracted talent from several industries across North America and Europe.

NEA: What is currently state-of-the-art in the LED market, and what does GELcore aim to bring to the picture in terms of technology and product features with its high-brightness LEDs?

Pozda: The state-of-the-art in the LED market is changing on a quarterly basis. This is a fast-moving market. In addition to improved compound semiconductor technologies, phosphor and packaging technology, GELcore intends to bring comprehensive applications support to better enable the penetration of this growing technology.

NEA: What are the applications for high-brightness LEDs, and what do you estimate will be the market demand? Who will be the early adopters?

Pozda: It is no surprise that traffic signals, displays and automotive applications are currently using LEDs. There are several other applications similar to these. Although what we are interested in participating is some of these growing markets, our interest is the development of new applications. Alone, LEDs are ideal for directional applications for identification, versus far field general illumination. A more sophisticated customer who is measuring total operating cost of a system will adopt the technology quicker, as they understand the impact this technology can have.

NEA: Describe the technologies you are using to make high-brightness LEDs? What are the strengths of the technology? What are the market barriers?

Pozda: The technologies to make high-brightness LEDs are common, such as nitrides and AlInGaP (aluminum indium gallium phosphate). LEDs bring a broad range of benefits such as long life, durability, more energy efficiency than incandescent lights, low heat and efficiencies in color.

Pozda: Although the market barriers for this technology are no different than any other competing technology, cost per usable lumen is the largest challenge for this technology in many applications. P-N junction temperature constraints, current spreading and packaging limitations of existing devices will limit the entitlement of the technology.

NEA: What is the potential market size for high-brightness LEDs?

Pozda: Strategies Unlimited, (a market research company) indicated that GaAsP (gallium arsenide phosphate) is dying and AlInGap and InGaN (indium gallium nitride) are growing at 20-plus percent.

NEA: Who are your competitors that are developing the same types of LEDs. What are their approaches? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Pozda: Each competitor’s approach is slightly different, and each excels in its own discrete way. The largest void we see is in technical support. Several competitors’ primary path to the market is through secondary distribution, which is not necessary and provides limited value-add. There are better ways to serve local needs, and I envision that our model will be a best practice in the industry.

NEA: When do you expect to have your first products on the market, and what types of products will they be and what are your plans for sales?

Pozda: The first products will be introduced in the first quarter of 2000. We will offer a broad line of InGaN and AlInGap LEDs, in addition to value-added services. We will touch the market through several mediums. Our primary strength will be through GE Lighting’s global sales arm.

(Lori Valigra, Boston: Feb. 2000 Issue, Nikkei Electronics Asia)

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