Great White Hope

Spend any time listening to LED-industry experts talk about the little semiconductor’s huge promise, and you’ll soon believe it is the solution to the world’s problems—simultaneously able to curb energy consumption, light pollution, and the amount of trash in the waste stream. But while LEDs are commonly used in color applications and are popular in the portable lighting industry, they have yet to go mainstream. Cree thinks its latest XLamp, the 7090 XR-E, will change that.

At up to 160 lumens, the cool-white lamp is brighter and more efficient than previous iterations—by as much as half—which the manufacturer argues should finally make LEDs cost-effective in outdoor applications such as parking garages and streetlights. Before long, Cree plans to have a warmer indoor-quality version on the market. “It’s a huge advance because it enables new fixtures and applications that are more efficient than any current LED technology,” says Fritz Morgan, chief technology officer for Color Kinetics, which purchases from Cree. “The warmer colored light is where I think the biggest breakthroughs will come from. But quite honestly, they’ve already completed the hard part.”

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