Germany holds a good position in the lighting technology field of
photonics. "We have access to the market and are leaders in
technology," explains Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, head of the
Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in
Apart from this the global photonics market is clearly split. German
companies have little room for manoeuvre, production is carried out in
Asia. According to the Swiss management consultants Optech Consulting,
in 2006 the market grew by 11% to just over EUR 250 bn.Global market by sectors
By far the largest fields are flat panel displays (26%) and information
technology (21%). These are followed by lighting, defence, medical
technology and metrology, each accounting for 8%. Growth rates in
high performance LEDs are currently running at over 25%.
Opto-electronic systems in the automotive industry have a clear head
start with their many uses ranging from holograms on the windscreen to
night vision and rear-view cameras. They are also increasingly
being used in freeform optics or presentation systems. "German
companies have developed competitive advantages in microstructure and
nanostructure fields," explains Tünnermann. Many German companies
are also working with commitment in semiconductor elements and
components.Lighting efficiency is growing
New types of projection system are being developed. "LEDs will
supersede conventional halogen bulbs in just a few years,"
Tünnermann is sure. However, their efficiency is as yet very low.
"Most of the light does not even come out unless you use suitable
optics." These are used to concentrate the light.
Osram, one of the largest manufacturers of lightbulbs, has achieved
these optics with the super-bright LED: a metal coating inside serves
as a mirror for the internally-generated light and reflects it to the
top of the chip where it is outcoupled.
In the meantime, the company is now using revolutionary thin film
technology for all colours. The forthcoming projection systems using
devices the size of mobile phones will "be equipped with German
technology", says Tünnermann.
Lighting efficiency could even increase tenfold. In particular, a much
more precise light level is achieved and thermal intensity is much
"The interaction between the key components will be crucial," says
Tünnermann of future developments. Light sources and optics are
moving closer together. The expert in applied optics regards the
development of a dual-layer mirror as a major step into the future.
"Germany has the patent," says Tünnermann with high hopes.
If convergence between the three fields of semiconductors, light
sources and optics succeeds, "then you can expect some surprises,"
stresses Tünnermann. In particular, lighting technology will
benefit enormously. However, it will take "another five to six years",
according to Tünnermann, until the products are ready to launch.The photonics market is dominated by flat panel displays and
information technology. In 2005, the global market was worth EUR 228