How tunable human-centric lighting is placing greater thermal demands on LEDs

January 25, 2018 // By Mike Edwards
Tunable lighting — or human-centric lighting — is one of the biggest trends hitting the lighting industry, and it’s easy to see why. Both research and user feedback shows the right light style, colour, warmth and brightness can have tangible benefits to people in different contexts affecting behaviour, mood and concentration.

For example, in education, a cool blue or white light can help boost students’ (and teachers’) attentiveness after lunch when enthusiasm and energy tend to dip. Conversely, a warmer orange light will help calm a classroom of rowdy children.

In hospitality, restaurants frequently take advantage of basic tunable lighting, creating different ambiences at different times of day for guests — without needing a complex, expensive multimode lighting system.

And in countries that experience extremely high temperatures in the summer particularly the Middle East and extremely low temperatures in the winter, like Switzerland or Canada, more and more buildings feature tunable lighting that offers bluer light in the summer to create a cooler atmosphere and orange light in the winter to create a feeling of warmth.

While the move towards tunable lighting benefits occupants and customers, the technical challenges involved with creating LEDs that deliver tunable lighting is setting LED engineers challenges around cost, performance, reliability and manufacturability.

Turning towards CSP LEDs

To support tunable lighting requires multiple LEDs emitting different wavelengths. This requires many more LEDs in each bulb. One of the essential modifications that engineers must make to the usually deployed standard ‘packaged’ LED is to strip out certain parts to make the LED component smaller, thus creating a chip-scale packaging (CSP) LED where each device is less than 1.2x than its core LED functional element.

Fig. 1: Packaged versus chip-scale packaged (CSP) LED.

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