The conventional light bulb has been used in the automobile for more than a hundred years. It has represented the lion’s share of light sources for around 85 years now. And yet now light-emitting diodes are taking over more and more lighting functions. Designers are a driving force behind this. They are enthused by the possibilities that LED offers them.
They are already illuminating the first smartphone displays and a few small but bespoke TV sets. I’m talking about OLEDs, also known by the brand name AMOLED in the mobile phone sector. This technology is also set to play a role in the automotive sector in the future.
The abbreviation “OLED” stands for organic light-emitting diode, something which causes much confusion. Organic? One of the most common questions about them is: “Does that mean they are manufactured from sustainable raw materials?” Some people then think back to dim and distant chemistry lessons and recall that “organic chemistry” is the branch of the subject that deals with carbon compounds. It has nothing to do with eco-friendliness and the like. The same is true of OLEDs which are, in fact, a new kind light-emitting semiconductor and have very little in common with classical LEDs.
Police, fire service, ambulances – when they’re called to an emergency, they all need blue light. Up to now, this has usually taken the form of a halogen lamp which is circled by a reflector. In other words, the light beam rotates around the luminaire. But there is a great disadvantage to this. Valuable moments are lost before the warning is seen by other motorists. But LED technology has the answer. With the brightest blue light-emitting diode worldwide, Osram has made it possible to construct blue lights and other signal functions without mechanical parts. With this system, several LEDs can transmit the blue light in all directions without losing a single moment.
Two technologies are currently all the rage: glare-free high beam lighting and LED headlamps. Opel has combined the two and is calling it matrix light. We had the chance to test an OPEL Insignia fitted with the new technology.
It has long been every motorist’s dream: to drive through the night with the high beam lights on – without dazzling other drivers. And this has been possible for some time now, for instance in certain VW models. The glare-free high beam lighting dims the light in exactly those places where oncoming traffic and cars traveling ahead are located. The system consists of a camera which controls the headlamps. The headlamps, meanwhile, use a xenon projection module. The module contains a roll on which several light shades are mounted and they darken the light in the desired areas. The module can also be pivoted. Up to now, it had been impossible to apply this method to the very popular LED technology, as the system would have required a single LED, and no single LED was available that could produce a luminous flux comparable to that of xenon lighting.