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Nichia, Infineon bring high-resolution micro-LED matrix solution

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By Christoph Hammerschmidt


Infineon and LED manufacturer Nichia want to tackle the market for innovative vehicle front lighting with a high-definition light engine. The two companies could benefit from the current trend toward matrix LED headlights.

The HD Light Engine from Infineon and Nichia can drive 16,384 pixels separately. Although there are suppliers who have announced similar solutions with even significantly more pixels (up to 25,000), the Infineon-Nichia solution has one important feature ahead of them: as a fully integrated LED engine, it is more compact and simplifies the design of the entire headlight. It will be launched in a German premium vehicle as early as this year.

According to Yusuke Yamazaki, head of sales and marketing automotive, Nichia Europe, the joint development, fully named µPLS micro-Pixelated Light Solution, offers a field of view four times wider than current competing designs based on micromirrors. In addition, Yamazaki said, the development shines with the highest light output in the industry. With its pixels individually controllable via PWM modulation, the Nichia-Infineon solution can implement novel lighting applications – for example, in the manner of a spotlight, it can specifically highlight certain details of particular relevance to the traffic scene, such as people or objects at the edge of the road or on the road itself. It can also project markings onto the road to guide drivers through a construction site or intersection. In addition, functions such as glare-free high beams or cornering lights operate more precisely and smoothly than current adaptive high beam solutions, Yamazaki said.

The µPLS combines all the necessary micro-LED driver circuitry with extensive diagnostic functions and high-speed video and control interfaces. “It enables customers to deploy fully digital lighting on the road, reducing overall system costs, in a very small form factor the size of a single semiconductor chip,” enthuses Andreas Doll, senior vice-president and general manager of Infineon’s Automotive Division’s Body Power business unit.

Smaller, slimmer headlights replace yesterday’s bulky designs

The HD light engine uses Nichia’s micro-LED technology and an integrated LED driver IC from Infineon. In addition, the driver IC monitors each micro-LED separately and provides on-chip temperature monitoring that enables thermal control. Integrated video interfaces enable high-speed transmission of the video signal from the unit generating the light patterns. Unlike current HD matrix solutions, Infineon’s driver IC activates only those LEDs that are actually needed for a light pattern. This increases the energy efficiency of the µPLS light engine compared to commercially available HD matrix solutions with micromirrors, Infineon explains.

For headlight designers, this technology enables the construction of smaller and slimmer front lights. In addition, the new HD light engine allows settings that can be digitally programmed at the factory. Alternatively, these can be activated by the vehicle manufacturer or by the driver on request. For example, the different requirements of left- and right-handed drivers can be taken into account, which significantly increases user-friendliness. With all these features, the new HD light reduces design and production complexity for vehicle manufacturers.

www.infineon.com/cms/de/discoveries/new-mobility/

www.nichia.com

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