Polar Sapphire: Driving Down LED Costs

Polar Sapphire's proprietary process produces the world's lowest cost, highest purity alumina. High purity alumina faces growing demand, driven primarily by the growth in LED lighting market - but secondary (and highly disruptive) demand may be created by emerging markets like sapphire smart phone glass (see Apple's recent announcement relating to sapphire ingot production), lithium-ion battery coating, etc.High purity alumina - 99.99% pure aluminum oxide (Al2O3) - is used to make artificial sapphires.

Sapphire ingots are cored, then sliced to make the crystal wafer substrates on which LEDs are grown. Higher purity alumina yields larger wafers due to the smaller number of impurities in the core ingot. Larger wafers drives down the cost of LED production.

The market for high purity alumina was near 14000 tonnes in 2013 and is expected to grow to 25000 tonnes by 2015. Market prices remain near $50/kg - leading to an addressable market of more than a billion dollars by 2015. Polar's high-margin, low-cost (and low energy) production method will ensure it's position as the lowest cost and highest quality provider in this market.

Currently building a production line large enough to demonstrate core economics and initiate strategic customer engagement. Our first investment was placed in 2012, and we recently led their B-Round in Q4 2013. We look forward to supporting Polar right through full commercial production.

CEO Scott Nichol is a savvy entrepreneur who proved his ability to deliver disruptive industrial-scale chemical processes as founder/CTO of 6N Solar.Originally posted Jan 22, 2014 on the ArcternVentures.com

·RELATED QUESTION

I didn't get Google Glass Explorer Edition. Is trying to learn Glass dev without the hardware a futile effort?

No, you can still learn the fundamentals of Glass development without the hardware.

There are three main approaches for accomplishing this:

1) Visit the Mirror API documentation, get into the playground, and start hashing up some code. Download the PHP, Java, and Python library, whichever you're most comfortable with. Familiarize yourself with the jargon and converntions (timeline, bundles, menus, etc). Read the support documentation (second link below) to see how the Glass hardware actually functions. Build some apps to this specification. Soon enough, you will find a friend with hardware to t

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The LED lighting industry has indeed developed rapidly in recent years, especially in the field of downstream applications, especially in Guangdong Province. However, after the rapid development and expansion, patents have increasingly become the bottleneck for the further development of led enterprises. Therefore, it will not be too late for the patent layout of enterprises to be done at any time, in any place and in any way.In short, patent layout is the overall goal of the enterprise's patent layout in a certain period of time in the future, and further make specific plans for each layout stage according to the enterprise's development plan to determine the patent layout tasks and measures at each stage; In each implementation stage, the Patent Management Department of the enterprise also needs to put forward more specific indicators for the number and structure of patent layout. In addition, in the implementation process, the enterprise also needs to investigate the layout plan in combination with the implementation of the patent layout plan, the adjustment of the enterprise development plan, and the changes of the external technology, industry and market environment.First, let's understand the basic situation of LED lighting lamps:LED lighting fixture is a general term of LED lamps, which refers to the appliances that can transmit light, distribute and change the light distribution of LED light source, including all parts and components required for fixing and protecting LED light source except LED light source, as well as line accessories necessary for power connection. In short, it is composed of LED light source, radiator, lamp shell, driving power supply, support, necessary circuit auxiliary devices and measures to connect them with power supply. In the 21st century, the design of room lamps and lanterns will take the design of LED lamps and lanterns as the mainstream, fully reflect the lighting development trend of energy conservation, health, artistry and humanization, and become the leading of room lighting culture.At present, the problems perplexing LED lighting technology are as follows:1. Domestic enterprises have no core technologyMost of the core patents in the upstream of the LED industry are in the hands of foreign companies. We do not master the core technology in China. Although the manufacturing capacity of our LED application products accounts for 50% and 50% in the world, it is the lowest link in the profit link. The cost of LED lighting lamps mainly lies in the LED chip. As long as the chip price is reduced, the lumen unit price of LED can be reduced to the same as that of energy-saving lamps at this stage. As the production process of LED chips with larger size wafers increases with the process and quantity, the cost will continue to be reduced. In recent years, the speed is reduced by 20% every year. In the price factor of LED chips, the improvement of light efficiency should also be included in the price reduction. Better products are purchased at the same price, so there is still much room for price reduction of LED chips.2. Difficult heat dissipation of LED application productsThe heat dissipation cost should be maintained at 5%. The actual heat dissipation design is very simple. Hold two directions: first, the shorter the path between the LED chip and the external radiator, the better your heat dissipation design; Second, the heat dissipation resistance is to have enough heat dissipation transmission paths and enough "heat dissipation roads". This part of the cost is mainly in the structure. The structural design accounts for about 20% of the lamps, and the cost for heat dissipation is not much. Now the biggest problem is how to achieve more innovative and reasonable structural design.3. LED application power supplyPower supply is the weakest link of LED lighting, which restricts the development of LED lighting. Now the design accounts for about 20% of the cost of LED lighting lamps, which is somewhat high. With the development of technology, the power supply is about 5-10%. Compared with other light sources in the afterlife, the current cost of LED light source is not high, especially led environmental protection, energy saving and mercury free. Moreover, the price of LED lighting lamps is sliding down every quarter. In a short time, the price of LED lighting lamps must reach an acceptable level.Let's take another look at the patent profile of the LED industry:Patent application disclosure trend:The national LED lighting lamps started in 2000 and reached a high peak from 2013 to 2015. It can be seen that led enterprises are stepping up their patent applications.The first four segments focus on:F21y101 / 02 miniature light sourceF21s2 / 00 lighting systemF21v29 / 00 cooling or heating deviceF21v19 / 00 fixing of light source or lamp holderIt can be seen that domestic LED lighting lamps are concentrated in light source, lighting system, heat dissipation and structure, and there are many patent layouts of fixed devices.Let's take another look at the application of the top 10 LED lamps in China:The technical layout of domestic led enterprises in the research and development of LED lighting lamps will be weaker than that in the upstream, but this will not become an obstacle to the demand of downstream enterprises. From the simple analysis of the above figure, it can be seen that the subdivided fields of LED lighting lamps should develop, that is, compared with others, such as h05b37 / 02 (control of circuit devices for general electric light sources), f21v17 / 10 (fastening of components of lighting device), f21v17 / 00 (components of lighting device), f21v31 / 00 (functional features of lighting device or its system or gas or water-proof devices of parts), the development potential of small fields is relatively large. Therefore, if the technology of LED lamps belongs to a unique field, the patent layout in this field can be considered.From another point of view, the R & D investment and patent layout of LED lighting lamps in intelligent control are relatively small. Intelligent lighting is the future development direction of LED lamps. One button switch, longitude and latitude control switch lamps to adjust the brightness of light... Intelligent lighting enables cities to have beautiful night scenery and reduce human and material expenditure and energy waste. Therefore, many large Enterprises have begun to compete for this piece of cake. They can refer to their relevant patent layout and route to choose a layout suitable for their own development.Finally, the first priority of the LED industry is to realize lighting energy conservation, which cannot be changed. As a green, energy-saving and low-carbon light source, compared with traditional lighting methods, LED lamps have the greatest advantages. Under the same brightness, the energy consumption accounts for only 1 / 3 to 1 / 6 of fluorescent lamps, and its service life is 5 to 10 times that of fluorescent lamps. Nevertheless, with the development of application and With the increase of area and high brightness broadcasting, the power consumption can not be underestimated. Therefore, led enterprises still need to lay out patents from the technical level to make their products more energy-saving and reduce the economic burden of advertising owners, so as to occupy a certain market share. At the same time, from relevant authoritative data, once led lighting products form an "explosive" Growth, popularization and promotion to the medium, high and low end can save China about the power generated by one Three Gorges power station every year.Looking at the patent layout of many led enterprises, the patent layout planning of enterprises can be divided into three time stages: short, medium and long-term:(1) Short term patent layout planningThe main task of short-term patent layout is to provide patent protection for upcoming LED products, mine patents for various technical achievements in product development, make key deployment on its advantageous technical points, and complete the established patent application volume index; at the same time, cooperate with the medium and long-term development plan of the enterprise, implement the medium and long-term patent layout, and pay attention to the next generation of products Start the laying of basic patent protection points.During this period, a large number of patent applications were rapidly accumulated in various technical points. By maintaining a certain number of patent applications and reserves, the enterprise's patent database was initially established to provide necessary intellectual property support and guarantee for the business expansion of the enterprise, so as to avoid large patent risks. In addition, while ensuring the quantity, we should not relax the requirements for quality. We should be conscious Pay more attention to the matching of patents with different protection themes and protection contents, so as to lay a foundation for the realization of patent combination.(2) Medium term patent layout planningThe main task of the medium-term patent layout is to complete the phased layout objectives in combination with the medium-term product planning and commercial development of led enterprises and the patent application status of competitors, preliminarily complete the protective patent layout, antagonistic patent layout and / or reserve patent layout according to the needs, and form a certain number of patent combinations.At this stage, patent application is a "quantity" and "quality" With equal emphasis on the process, the number of applications will generally tend to grow steadily, and the growth rate is basically consistent with the average growth rate of the industry. The purpose is to continuously improve and consolidate the formed patent library, improve the coverage of patents in products, technologies and market regions, further optimize the structural distribution of patents and improve the quality of patents.(3) Long term patent layout planningThe main task of long-term patent layout planning is to support the future market development of the enterprise in accordance with the enterprise's long-term business development strategy, product planning route and patent positioning. Generally speaking, the long-term patent layout planning of led enterprises should pay more attention to improving the overall value of patents. At this stage, the enterprise's patent reserves have reached a certain quantity, scale and structural distribution , with certain patent strength and even advantageous position in some fields, enterprises often begin to pay more attention to the following contents:â—‡ promotion of patent application value and effective control of patent cost;â—‡ carry out patent operation and obtain additional income;â—‡ rely on the control of the patent industry and actively promote the effective combination of their own patents and standards;â—‡ on the premise of maintaining its patent dominant position and confrontation ability, optimize the structure of the patent portfolio and consciously remove the redundancy in the patent library.At this stage, enterprises can consider giving up or transferring patents with low value. Moreover, based on their own economic strength and the growth of patent strength, enterprises can often take more diversified ways to improve their patent layout and supplement the patent composition in their patent portfolio, such as cross licensing, purchase and forming strategic alliances with peer enterprises Type.As for the patent layout, many teachers and celebrities in the industry are talking about it, and many enterprises are asking how to layout or implement the patent layout in an exploratory way. Everyone is feeling the stone to cross the river. The patent layout is definitely not a single way, but an all-round and multi-path design. It belongs to the enterprise, "all roads lead to Rome" , enterprises must have a horizontal and vertical way of thinking about patents, with width and depth. Let enterprises take more "detours" on the road of patents and less detours in product planning, layout, R & D and design, or the layout in front can only belong to their own way. Even if they don't go, they won't let others go easily.
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