Products, Materials + Tools | May 14, 2010

PC Memory Company Rambus Enters LED Lighting Market

Rambus, a company best known for its PC memory technology, has developed a process for making flat LED plates to replace overhead office lighting.

At the Lightfair Intenrational conference, the company showed off prototypes of a system that it says can lower the manufacturing costs of LED lighting for commercial buildings and flat-panel displays.

Last year, Rambus bought patents from Global Lighting Technologies related to components of a flat LED fixture. Having developed product prototypes and a manufacturing process, Rambus is now seeking to license that technology to other companies, executives said on Monday.

The technology itself is not the actual LEDs, but components for an edge-lit lighting panel. LEDs are placed on the edge of a panel, which is about a half-inch thick. A "light guide," made up of textured plastic, acts as series of tiny lenses to reflect the light so that it emits uniformly from the flat plate.

The prototypes that Rambus plans to show are two rectangle shaped light sources--one 2 feet by 2 feet and the other by 3 inches by 43 inches.

If the company is successful, larger versions of those flat-plate light sources would replace florescent bulbs used in office buildings. In a commercial product, manufacturers would license the process technology and use LEDs from another supplier, Rambus executives explained.

"My guess is that we're about two years away from parity with fluorescents because LEDs are on a faster cost curve," said Tim Messegee, vice president of marketing at Rambus.

Now companies or consumers buy LEDs based on the cost savings over time and for other benefits, such as the lack of mercury and the longer life of LEDs, he said.

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