UV LEDs Highly Profitable, but Technology Barrier Difficult to Overcome
UV LEDs cannot be used in the standard lighting market because it is dangerous to look directly into the light source due to wavelengths. UV LED products are used in specialty markets such as counterfeit money detection and gel curing. According to SemiLEDs, its UV LED products that are capable of emitting radiation at 390-420 nm wavelengths are in production. SemiLEDs also plans to continue to develop UV LED products with shorter wavelengths, such as 365-420 nm and 320-365 nm.
Currently, the demand for UV LEDs comes from panel, semiconductor, solar, mobile phone lens module, and equipment manufacturers (such as C Sun), as well as printing equipment makers such as Japan’s Ryobi, Panasonic, and Mitsubishi. These companies are in need of reliable manufacturers that can provide a steady supply of high-quality UV LEDs. SemiLEDs’ UV LEDs have been qualified and adopted by many global UV industry players.
Traditional UV lamps have a lifespan of 500 to 1000 hours – however, as they require time to warm up prior to use, actual usage time is reduced to less than 500 hours. Additionally, as traditional UV lamps emit large amounts of infrared light which can damage coating, they must be used at a certain distance, further lowering efficiency. Cooling systems and air conditioning equipment are also necessary to manage high levels of heat from the infrared light. High energy consumption, short lifespan, use of mercury, and ozone production are all downfalls of traditional UV lamps.
UV LED light sources, on the other hand, provide a higher level of optical power and have smaller form factor. Furthermore, the advantage of a single wavelength allows UV LEDs to operate at closer range, improving optical efficiency. Because no warm up time is required, UV LEDs have response time of less than 1 ms. In addition, since UV LEDs do not need to be on all day, the lifespan of UV LEDs is significantly longer than that of traditional UV mercury lamps.