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LEDs light up in medical/science device market

BioPhotonics
Feb 2011
Caren B. Les, caren.les@photonics.com

UPPER LAKE, Calif. – Packaged component LEDs, also known as component-level bulbs, are set to grow by leaps and bounds in selected medical/science and test/measurement devices. The global consumption of packaged LEDs used in these devices is expected to reach $185.73 million in 2016, up from $21.82 million in 2009, according to ElectroniCast Consultants, which published a market report in November 2010. The predicted average annual growth rate is 35.8 percent – with comparable strong quantity growth partially offset by a decline of average prices in some categories.

The industry segment comprises four major application categories: phototherapy/sanitation/cell regeneration/curing; operating theater/surgical/dentistry lighting; sensing/detection and analytical/monitoring; and instrumentation light source and imaging.

“The global consumption value of LEDs for use in phototherapy, sanitation, cell regeneration and curing, including water treatment, and health and beauty procedures, is forecast to have strong growth, increasing from $6.2 million in 2009 to $82.63 million in 2016,” said Stephen Montgomery, president of international business at ElectroniCast. “This application category is expected to represent about 44 percent of the consumption value of LEDs used in the main industry segment in 2016, up from 28 percent in 2009.”


The global consumption value of LEDs in test/measurement and medical/science devices is expected to rise to $185.73 million in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 35.8 percent over the period from 2009. Courtesy of ElectroniCast Consultants.


The consumption value of LEDs for illumination in operating rooms and for surgical and dental procedures will grow at the impressive rate of 75.7 percent per year, from $1.05 million in 2009 to $54.13 million in 2016, Montgomery said. The firm predicts that this segment will have a 29 percent share in the consumption value of LEDs used in the overall industry segment in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2009.

The consumption value of LEDs used in sensing/detection and analytical/monitoring applications in 2009 was $12.5 million, representing 57 percent of the worldwide consumption value of LEDs used in the overall industry segment. In 2016, Montgomery said, the relative market share of these applications is likely to decrease to 22 percent, although its consumption value will increase to $40.21 million.

The consumption value of LEDs in instrumentation light sources and imaging devices, including for biophotonic imaging devices and machine vision for factory automation, is forecast to increase from $2.08 million in 2009 to $8.76 million in 2016. This application category represents about 5 percent of the consumption value of LEDs used in the overall industry segment in 2016, down from 9 percent in 2009.

The value of the blue LEDs segment could experience an impressive 44.9 percent annual average growth rate, driven by the explosive growth in photodynamic therapy, where blue LEDs will be used in devices to whiten teeth and to treat skin problems such as sun damage and acne, Montgomery said.

Strong growth is anticipated for white LEDs to meet the rising demand for LED lighting in operating theaters and for use on headlamps worn by physicians, he said, adding that opportunities also exist for other LED colors in physicians’ headlamps, including assisting in distinguishing shades of red.

The report predicted that the red LED market share will decrease from 52 percent in 2009 to 27.6 percent in 2016.

“Systems using UV LEDs are being developed for polymer curing systems, sterilization, water purification, surface disinfection and numerous other applications,” Montgomery said. “UV fluorescence remains a cornerstone technique for the detection of biological agent aerosols.” Deep-UV LEDs can provide an appropriate light source without the environmental toxicity issues brought about by conventional mercury-based lamps.

An important industry goal is to improve the per-chip light output without increasing the overall chip and/or package size at a comparable or better price point, he said. The challenge is to improve fabrication techniques that result in acceptable and increasing yield percentages. The industry also is working to provide packaged LEDs that have luminous efficacy stability over a broad temperature range, including efficient LED arrays suitable for harsh environments.

He also mentioned fluorescence microscopy applications in which high-intensity LEDs in a variety of colors match the excitation bandwidth of many commonly used fluorescent dyes and proteins. This approach is advantageous in that individual color/wavelength LED lights can be used instead of filter wheels or shutters, he said. The challenge for the industry is to continue to prove this approach’s cost compared with its advantages versus the existing techniques.

Demonstrating the technique’s effectiveness in disease treatment, providing the right wavelength in the right package and in funding-related university research are among efforts that could accomplish this task, Montgomery said.

“The industry continues to look for applications for LEDs in the market sectors covered in the report,” he said. “For example, we are paying attention to the use of phototherapy devices that could complement medicine. There seems to be an almost endless list of prospective business opportunities. Among them, the use of LEDs in the field of psychological counseling has enormous business potential.”

Montgomery emphasized the need to further publicize the advantages of LEDs, including their safety features, in comparison with competing technologies.

He noted that an important issue in the industry is the need to take innovative ideas from the concept to the revenue-potential stage.

“One popular way to address this in a business approach is having teams of technologists and application-oriented marketing staff working to provide winning solutions for their customers. In other words, identify a need and provide a solution in a timely profitable fashion,” he said.


GLOSSARY
curing
The use of chemicals or radiation to induce a desired change in a substance; e.g., some optical adhesives are set by exposure to ultraviolet light and are said to be UV-curing.
fluorescence
The emission of light or other electromagnetic radiation of longer wavelengths by a substance as a result of the absorption of some other radiation of shorter wavelengths, provided the emission continues only as long as the stimulus producing it is maintained. In other words, fluorescence is the luminescence that persists for less than about 10-8 s after excitation.
illumination
The general term for the application of light to a subject. It should not be used in place of the specific quantity illuminance.
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