LED Phosphor Markets-2014 Chapter One
This new NanoMarkets report provides a thorough analysis of the latest opportunities in the LED phosphor markets. It builds on NanoMarkets’ successful 2012 phosphor report and shows how the phosphor market is shifting in response to latest developments in both display backlighting and general illumination markets. In this years’ report, we are placing special attention on some of the newer phosphor chemistries such as nanophosphors, glass phosphors and QDs. And we also ask and answer the question as to how new phosphor materials can build market share in a market crowded in new materials. We identify how performance improvements are likely to help grow addressable markets for phosphors, with an especial focus on general illumination, outdoor/street lighting and backlighting and how money will be made in the LED phosphor market. The report also includes NanoMarkets’ assessments of the product/market strategies of leading firms active in the LED phosphors space. And, as always with our reports, this report contains granular eight-year forecasts of the LED phosphors shipments in volume and value terms, with breakouts by type of phosphor and type of application. This report is required reading, not just for strategy planners at phosphor firms, but for those throughout the solid-state lighting and display industries.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - LED Phosphor Markets-2014 Chapter One
LED Phosphor Markets – 2014
Published December 2013
LED Phosphor Markets – 2014
This new NanoMarkets report provides a thorough analysis of the latest opportunities in the
LED phosphor markets. It builds on NanoMarkets’ successful 2012 phosphor report and
shows how the phosphor market is shifting in response to latest developments in both
display backlighting and general illumination markets.
In this years’ report, we are placing special attention on some of the newer phosphor
chemistries such as nanophosphors, glass phosphors and QDs. And we also ask and answer
the question as to how new phosphor materials can build market share in a market crowded
in new materials.
We identify how performance improvements are likely to help grow addressable markets for
phosphors, with an especial focus on general illumination, outdoor/street lighting and
backlighting and how money will be made in the LED phosphor market.
The report also includes NanoMarkets’ assessments of the product/market strategies of
leading firms active in the LED phosphors space. And, as always with our reports, this
report contains granular eight-year forecasts of the LED phosphors shipments in volume
and value terms, with breakouts by type of phosphor and type of application. This report
is required reading, not just for strategy planners at phosphor firms, but for those
throughout the solid-state lighting and display industries.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
E.1 Important changes since NanoMarkets’ previous phosphor report
E.2 Key opportunities for LED phosphors
E.2.1 Opportunities for independent phosphor makers
E.2.2 Opportunities for LED firms
E.2.3 Opportunities for the lighting and display industry
E.2.4 Potential for start-ups
E.3 Firms to watch in LED phosphors
E.3.1 The growing importance of China
E.3.2 Other important phosphor firms to watch
E.3.3 LED firms that shape the phosphor market
E.4 Thoughts on China as a supplier and user of LED phosphors
E.5 Summary of eight-year forecasts for LED phosphors
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background to this report
1.2 Objectives and scope of this report
1.3 Methodology of this report
1.4 Plan of this report
Chapter Two: Phosphors: Materials and Products
2.1 Standard conversion: Blue LEDs with Ce-YAG coatings
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2.1.1 How dominant will standard phosphor technologies
2.1.2 Who controls the IP
2.1.2 What happens when critical phosphor IP expires?
2.2 White phosphors
2.3 UV and NUV strategies
2.4 CCT and the warm white technology gap
2.5 Phosphor-on-LED vs. remote phosphor coatings
2.6 Emerging phosphor strategies
2.6.1 Thin-film phosphors
2.6.2 Glass phosphors
2.7 Emerging competition for improved phosphors
2.7.1 RGB LED combinations
2.7.2 QD-coated LEDs
2.8 Pricing trends
2.8.1 Expectations for price declines for novel phosphors
2.9 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Three: Phosphor Markets, Opportunities and Challenges
3.1 Factors shaping the use of phosphors in general illumination markets
3.1.1 Current consumer dissatisfaction with LED and CFL lighting
3.1.2 Regional differences in lighting tastes
3.1.3 CRI and CCT goals
3.1.4 Which phosphors will succeed in the general illumination market?
3.2 Outdoor/street lighting
3.2.1 Current and future CRI and CCT requirements for street lighting
3.2.2 Current and future CRI and CCT requirements for other outdoor lighting
3.2.3 Which phosphors will succeed in the outdoor/street lighting market?
3.3 LED backlights for displays
3.3.1 Light uniformity and its impact on the phosphor market
3.3.2 Edge-lit LCDs and phosphors
3.3.3 Which phosphors will succeed in the outdoor/street lighting market?
3.4 Automotive lighting
3.4.1 LED lighting requirements and tastes for auto lighting: implications for phosphors
3.4.2 Which phosphors will succeed in the auto market?
3.5 Notes on phosphors in audiovisual, theater and other specialty lighting
3.6 The rare earth supply problem
3.6.1 Current situation
3.6.2 Which rare earths will remain in shortage?
3.6.3 Implications for the phosphor sector
3.7 Manufacturing challenges for phosphors
3.7.2 Long-term manufacturing technology strategies for phosphors
3.8 Potential health and safety issues with phosphors
3.9 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Four: LED Phosphors Markets and Forecasts
4.1 Forecasting methodology
4.1.1 Pricing assumptions
4.2 Eight-Year forecasts of LED phosphors by application
4.3 Eight-Year forecasts of LED phosphors by type of phosphor material and technology
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4.4 Eight-Year forecasts of LED phosphors by location of customer
4.5 Alternative scenarios
LED Phosphor Markets – 2012
Market Opportunities for Quantum Dots in Lighting and Displays
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Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background to the Report
Increasing demand for luminous efficacy, a high color rendering index, and cost-effectiveness is
fueling the lighting industry. NanoMarkets believes that LED phosphors, will therefore enjoy an
Phosphors are the critical luminescent materials for LEDs. In a white LED, for example, the
phosphor emits up to 95 percent of the visible lumens. Existing phosphors have been able to
provide LEDs with 100 percent greater increase in LED efficacy and a 50 to 200 percent decline in
price. The use of phosphors has also helped drive down the price of high-quality LEDs by a
As a result, NanoMarkets believes that LED phosphors will continue to play a major role in the
development of the LED phosphor market. In particular, we think that the use of phosphors in
applications such as traffic lights and exit signs will become key drivers for the phosphor market.
More generally, we expect in LED applications where a lower cost per lumen, a high CRI, and a
lower cost of ownership can be demonstrated, phosphor penetration will continue to grow. We also
think that phosphor choice may help reduce consumer perception of LED lamps as being cold, dull,
and above all, unaffordable.
Also, and, as we discuss throughout this report, another critical factor is who owns the IP in the
phosphor space; a factor that has shaped—and clearly will continue to shape—the market. Other
factors that seem likely to continue and which NanoMarkets will also determine the structure of the
phosphor sector are the “division of labor” based on both supplier size and geography.
What we have in mind here is that our analysis indicates that large phosphor players will continue
to improve their products through the deployment of efficient production lines while smaller players
will seek novel phosphor solutions. There is also something of a divide between Asian and
European/U.S. firms with regard to product development. This is portrayed in Exhibit 1-1.
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Exhibit 1‐1: Phosphor Product Development Strategies by Geography
1.1.1 Emerging Requirements for LED Phosphors
For now the standard, blue chip Ce:YAG combination is the most popular on the market, green and
red phosphors are steadily growing their market share, particularly for applications that require a
high CRI and good color reproducibility, such as general lighting and liquid crystal display (LCD)
backlights in cell phones and flat-panel displays.
What NanoMarkets is seeing though is intensified competition for new green/red phosphors. What
this means in practical terms is that certain companies—like Intematix (U.S.) and Mitsubishi
Chemical Group Science—are actively working in this area and strengthening their IP. Where we
believe the thrust of the important R&D work in phosphors needs to be in the next few years is in
the areas discussed below.
Color-mixed solutions: In NanoMarkets' opinion, there is considerable room in the market for
color-mixed solutions. The workhorse for current lighting products is phosphor-converted blue light,
and there is still potential for energy improvement and cost reduction in that technology.
Color rendering indices: For high-quality LED solutions, the key factor is to increase the CRI at
various color temperatures while maintaining high efficiency.
NanoMarkets believes that new phosphors that have broad emission spectra (except for the red
phosphors, where a small bandwidth is needed to avoid NIR-losses), or emit at various wavelengths
with minimized re-absorption are needed.
Color consistency over time must also be guaranteed. Color conversion requires temperaturestable phosphor solutions, while RGB (red, green, blue) solutions require color controls that
compensate for the divergent aging properties of LEDs of different colors.
To take advantage of these opportunities, we believe that an understanding of the color mixing
mechanism at the molecular level is needed to be able to maintain the same color impression during
the lifetime of a single lamp and between individual lamps. This goal is difficult to achieve, however,
because the temperature and aging behavior of red, amber, and blue LEDs is different.
1.1.2 Materials Trends: Novel Products and New IP
All commercially available phosphors are heavily patent-protected items and have become the
basis for much of the IP litigation in the industry today. In NanoMarkets' view, however, an active Page | 6
search for novel phosphors is beginning, and we also believe there is plenty of opportunity for
entrepreneurs and businesses to enter this area and create novel IP.
NanoMarkets believes that the materials that will be key to the technical development of new
phosphors are garnets, silicates, aluminates, sulfides, selenides, nitrides, and oxynitrides. There
are interesting trends occurring with many of these materials, particularly with respect to intellectual
Garnet: The IP related to Ce3+ doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Ce:YAG), or yellow phosphors, is
mainly controlled by Nichia (Japan). Compositional modifications give CRIs of approximately 7080. This color quality is acceptable for applications such as backlights for portable displays and
indicators; applications which currently dominate the LED market and result in garnets dominating
the phosphor market.
NanoMarkets expects that the important role of garnets in the LED phosphor market will continue.
However, we think that there will be growing opportunities for new players to enter the market with
improved phosphor solutions in lieu of licensing technology from Nichia.
Silicates: We also expect something similar to occur in the silicate sector. Because Nichia’s critical
IP is set to expire in the next few years, an increasing number of phosphor manufacturers are
offering YAG compositions as well.
Sulfides and selenides: Sulfides and selenides are mainly patent-protected by Lumileds.
However, in addition to any limitations that IP places on the use of these materials, NanoMarkets
notes that this class of material has not been popular because it is sensitive to moisture and has
poor stability and a low QE (quantum efficiency). There are also some regulatory issues due to the
presence of sulfur compounds.
Despite all these negatives, we are seeing opportunities in this space, because when combined
with YAG:Ce, however, warm white light LEDs are produced.
Nitrides and oxynitrides: A new approach is to add red and/or green phosphors to nitrides or
oxynitrides to improve performance. This technology is currently controlled by Denka (Japan) and
Mitsubishi Chemicals (Japan) through with strong IP.
The problem here is that the price of these materials is, however, five- to ten-fold higher than that
of yellow phosphors. Thus, what we are seeing is that many research groups are scrambling to
develop better and cheaper converters, and a large number of patents have been filed in the last
One important example is Intematix’s (U.S.) latest U.S. patents (numbers 8,529,791 and
8,475,683), which describe green aluminate (GAL) technology for rendering high CRI solid-state
lighting (SSL). Companies are also investigating tungstates, molybdates, and carbidonitrides as
The focus on new materials development and patent protection here has mostly shifted toward red
and green converters. This is prmarily because current display and residential/ retail lighting
applications demand LEDs with warm colors and saturated reds. There are also some new
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approaches emerging that involve the addition of a red/green phosphor to a yellow phosphor to
increase the white light quality.
Other technologies: We also think that there are various other phosphor technologies that have
what it takes to emerge as a winners. In NanoMarkets’ opinion, the most promising include:
Nanophosphors, synthesized from phosphor nanoparticles. These are already gaining in
Mn2+ (manganese)-doped red phosphors. These were developed by GE (U.S.), and have
the advantage of not contain rare earth doping agents.
Hybrid phosphors prepared by functionalizing quantum dots (QDs) using glass phosphors
or by tuning the desired emission quality. Proof of concept has already been demonstrated
for these phosphore and we expected in-field testing to follow.
Non complex phosphors. For example, scientists from the University of Georgia have
created what is thought to be the world's first LED that emits a warm white light using a
single light-emitting phosphor with a single emitting center for illumination.
1.1.3 Manufacturing Technology Challenges and Opportunities
Improving production efficiency for phosphors, NanoMarkets believes, is a major challenge that
phosphor firms must overcome. LED phosphors are currently made in small batches mostly using
manual processes, but volumes are doubling almost every year, and many of the manufacturing
steps must now be automated. Various new kinds of phosphors are emerging that have demanding
requirements and present a number of manufacturing challenges. These are reviewed in Exhibit
As we see it, such automation will also address to some degree the current lack of consistency
between phosphor batches, which can be significant and leads to the required testing of all incoming
materials. And in the future, NanoMarkets expects that finer phosphor production technologies,
such as spray pyrolysis, could also improve particle size control. A better understanding of particle
morphology and the mechanisms of formation would also lead to improvements in both production
New phosphor deposition technologies, including thin film, multi-chip array, chip-on-board (CoB),
package-free (phosphor on die—PoD), embedded LED chip (ELC), and flip chip, are being sought
that improve emission uniformity and cost effectiveness. For remote phosphor application
processes, the availability of more uniform and reproducible phosphor materials would eliminate
the need for such matching processes and reduce costs. Thus, increased optical stability is needed
to meet the requirements for longevity and performance, particularly for remote phosphor
Exhibit 1‐2: Phosphor Requirements and Challenges associated with Existing and New deposition
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Direct contact High efficacy; high CRI; Increase in CRI at various color temperatures while
maintaining high efficiency without generating heat.
Difficult to achieve high CRI and warmness. Need for
new types of phosphors, including solutions that
high CRI and efficacy. optimize the ratio of phosphor mixing and new
phosphors that have broad emission spectra (except for
the red phosphors where a small bandwidth is needed
to avoid NIR‐losses) or emit at various wavelengths with
minimized re‐absorption. Color consistency over time
has to be guaranteed.
Need for new phosphor synthesis techniques with high
Modular light Remote phosphors;
Need to develop highly efficient phosphors/ phosphor
formulations and phosphors printed on plastic sheets.
encapsulants; uniform Thermal stability, no color loss.
New phosphor technology. Compatibility with new
types of components. Controlled application of
phosphor to the die.
Functionalized phosphors, color engineering, and no
Source: NanoMarkets LC
There are also some opportunities in the area of novel substrates. Specifically, phosphors printed
on plastic sheets that serve as diffusers of downlights are desirable. Some companies are also
working on fabricating phosphors in injection-molded plastic domes that are designed to sit on top
of an array of blue LEDs.
Thin films: In this technique, chips are packed tightly together to create multi-chip packages with
high luminance, and nanophosphors are preferred. Spray pyrolysis could be an enabling
technology here, since it provides for the formation of finer particles with a narrow particle size
distribution that is suitable for formulating inks.
In addition, NanoMarkets believes that the use of nanoparticles will reduce the sintering
temperature and allows the formation of thick layers at much lower temperatures. Nanoparticles
are also better at minimizing optical scattering.
Multi-chip arrays: Packaged multi-chip arrays (or modules) offer two main benefits. First, they
generate a high light output, but allow the heat to disperse, and will thus find use in spotlight sources
in which multiple chips are densely packed on small-scale substrates that require a light output of
5,000 lumens or more. Second, these multi-chip arrays enable the high color rendering required for
high-quality white light and color adjustment.
Two types of LEDS are currently prepared with these modules: phosphor-converted white LEDs
and modules with blue-pump LEDs and remote-phosphor optics. In addition, we think that
manufacturers should be able to develop custom red, green, and blue emitters for SSL that are not
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restricted to atomic transitions. Integration with encapsulants is another option.
NanoMarkets also believes that it may also be possible to mix phosphors directly into epoxy resins
to create package domes, thus setting the phosphor apart from the chip, which would reduce its
temperature and make the light source less point-like and more distributed. This approach will be
extremely useful for CoB and similar techniques.
Phosphor on die technology: PoD technology was first launched in 2012. Manufacturers including
Philips Lumileds (U.S.), Toshiba (Japan), TSMS Solid State Lighting (Taiwan), and Epistar (Taiwan)
are promoting package-free chip products in which the phosphor layer encapsulates the die without
additional packaging to create the emitting device. In this technique, controlled application of the
phosphor to the die is very critical.
PoD package-free chip products have an increased luminosity rate of 200 ml/W and a beam angle
of 300 degrees. In addition, because the use of secondary optics is not required, power
consumption and costs are reduced. NanoMarkets believes that compatible, phosphor slurries,
coated phosphors, and nanocrystalline phosphors will be needed for this technology.
Another package-free chip technology: LUXEON Q package-free chip technology has been, not
surprisingly, the focal point of the industry in 2013. Philips Lumileds’ first application of flip-chip
technology for high powered LEDs involves pasting the phosphor mixed with glue onto the flip chip
NanoMarkets believes there is significant potential here to develop phosphor sheets, and Epistar is
already working on this technology. Compared to conventional dispensing and spraying methods,
the phosphor sheets have higher uniformity, including optimized color uniformity and brightness.
Nonetheless, manufacturers will have to investigate novel and more environmentally friendly
synthesis methods that maintain high quantum efficiencies and lumen performance over the lifetime
of the LED.
1.1.2 Two “Threats” to Traditional Phosphors: Quantum Dots and Rare
Summing up the phosphor sector’s prospects, we believe that we have illustrated above that there
are many significant opportunities. But there are also some potential threats, although, as
discussed below, these are in no sense immediate.
Quantum dots: QDs are not phosphors at all, but NanoMarkets sees them increasingly as a
credible alternative to traditional phosphors in some applications. We think in particular, they are
already competitive with red nitride in terms of cost of ownership for a system level solution but only
used in remote phosphor configuration due to temperature sensitivity.
Nonetheless, there can be little doubt the high cost remains a major factor retarding the use of QDs
as an alternative to phosphors. This largely is due to the complex wet chemistry associated with
QDs and the relatively small batch size it implies.
NanoMarkets is confident that these issues around QDs are going to become increasingly resolved.
What we are seeing is that leading QD manufacturers like QD Vision (U.S.) and Nanosys (U.S.)
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appear ready to tackle the challenge of large volume manufacturing for QDs that would result from
a design win in a consumer display application. Also, we believe that once QDs achieve precise
tuning to deliver only the needed/desired emission colors, this technology will pose a long-term
threat to conventional phosphors.
Supply of rare earth metals: All phosphors are currently doped with rare earth metals, and
previously, supply tightness and upward spiraling costs were feared.
Fortunately these fears were not realized, and the LED phosphor market is actually benefiting from
a glut of new manufacturing capacity and a near-collapse in rare earth metal prices. New recycling
technologies are also lowering the pressure on rare earth prices. All of this is driving down the cost,
and hence, encouraging the rapid take-up of novel concepts for the development of novel phosphor
technologies and the improvement of existing materials.
1.2 Objectives and Scope of this Report
The objective of this new NanoMarkets report is to provide an in-depth analysis and forecast of the
LED phosphor market over the next eight years. It builds on the extensive experience that
NanoMarkets has in the area of solid-state lighting and related materials. The in-depth analysis of
market trends and major industry segments found in this report will help readers make informed
This report examines the latest market strategies, products, and technical developments in the area
of LED phosphors. We identify how performance improvements are likely to help grow addressable
markets for phosphors, with an emphasis on general illumination, outdoor/street lighting, and
backlighting, and where the potential opportunities can be found to make money in the LED
In this report, the various LED manufacturing technologies are evaluated and compared,
assessments of the strategies of leading firms active in the LED phosphors space, and a forward
looking perspective on the major factors driving and restraining market growth in the LED phosphor
market are provided. In addition, this report presents a technological growth map over time and
explains its impact on the market.
The report is written with a focus on emerging technologies that have recently been or have just
been commercialized. Less space and effort is devoted to LED phosphor technologies that exist
only on laboratory benches.
A broader objective of this report is to provide a detailed picture of the patent landscape for LED
phosphors. The aim is to understand who owns what and identify key patents by composition or
assignees. The report provides an overview of the phosphor-related IP litigation and licensing that
has shaped the industry since the mid-90s, as well as the key players with the most relevant IP.
This report also includes a special focus on the emerging LED phosphor market in China and a
demand/supply case study of rare earth metals. And, as always with NanoMarkets reports, this
report contains a granular assessment of emerging down converters, like quantum dot LEDs, nano
LEDs, and glass LEDS, highlighting their importance in this growing and dynamic technology
1.3 Methodology of this Report
The information for this report is derived from a variety of sources, but principally comes from
primary sources, including NanoMarkets' ongoing interview program with insiders in the field of LED
phosphors, including entrepreneurs, business development and marketing managers, and
technologists involved with solid-state lighting and emerging electronics of all kinds.
Secondary research has come from a variety of sources, such as company and industry
organization Internet sites, technical journals, press releases, trade association articles, company
literature, and SEC filings.
The basic forecasting approach involved identification and quantification of the underlying markets
for LED phosphors, along with their materials needs, and the technological and market pressures
that will affect the growth prospects for white LEDs produced using phosphors. We also assessed
the competitive landscape to determine the suitability and likely volume of LEDs that will be
produced over the next eight years, and we considered broader economic developments that may
impact LED phosphor development and commercialization.
This report is international in scope. That said, due to the nature of the research, much of the work
on LED phosphors is taking place in the developed world. The forecasts given are worldwide, with
the selection of relevant data based on importance, not on the location of the firms and research
1.4 Plan of this Report
Chapter Two is an overview of the emerging material and research trends across LED phosphor
technologies. It covers work done in the private sector at both large and small companies across
the globe. Where applicable to commercialization, university research is also discussed. A special
focus is placed on the value proposition of LED phosphors.
Chapter Three discusses the state of the LED phosphor market and its future development and
opportunities. In addition, this chapter is separated by application, and the emphasis is on the
largest opportunities, which are not necessarily the largest markets.
Chapter Four provides our eight-year forecast for the LED phosphor technologies and applications
that are discussed in the report.
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