With LED replacing incandescent lighting to fast become standard practice across architectural lighting design projects, those who work within the manufacturing and bespoke lighting industries are already seeking new and innovative ways to ustilise LED, as well as searching for new markets and applications to continue growth in this area. Dr Nakamua, the inventor of blue LED, recently revealed the two areas he believes to be integral to progressing the lighting industry in the future – those areas are li-fi and laser lighting.
Laser lighting is rapidly developing and it’s thought that one day it will replace LED as it continues to show its advantages. First and foremost, it has already been shown as an effective alternative to LED in the automotive industry, as when used in headlights, it was shown that it could project around double the distance of LED, reaching almost 300 metres.
That said, we won’t see such changes implemented any time soon, as laser lighting currently does not live up to the efficiency and cost effectiveness of LED, weighing in at almost ten times more expensive at present. It’s said that when the change does come around, laser lighting could potentially bring a room to life in a much more naturalistic way then you’d expect from lasers, where hundreds of bulbs are replaced by just a handful of extra-bright sources of light.
The principles of laser lighting and LED are similar, except lasers work off the use of mirrors to amplify the lighting effect and a laser diode, which can emit 2,000 times as much light. Experts predict that the introduction of laser lighting may cause designers to change the way they think, as it would provide the opportunity to channel light through free space, where no fibre optic cables are needed at all. Instead, one master laser could emit light towards glass or plastic wave guides, to redirect light and illuminate an entire room.
Much like wi-fi, li-fi has the potential to transfer data at an incredible speed, but at a nifty one hundred times faster. Should li-fi and laser technology join forces in the future, it’s believed there would be a wide range of applications benefiting a number of industries, including the architectural lighting industry. Research has shown that lasers and their diodes are capable of being modulated at ten times the rate of LEDs, and the unique wavelengths created then used as separate data channels to carry far more data. As laser diodes become less expensive and the technology solidified through the growing number of researchers and institutions working on the development, we can expect to see the likes of li-fi and lasers combining on the market within the next five years.