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The Changing Landscape of Optoelectronics

Optoelectronics is a field of electronics that is related to the concept, design, production and management of hardware that transforms electrical signal to perceptible or infrared radiation and vice versa. Some of the examples of optoelectronic components include solar cells, optoisolators, LEDs and laser diodes.

Optoelectronic semiconductors are playing a vital role in applications varying from lighting and factory automation to renewable energy and smart metering. Currently, Optoelectronics may be reflecting 6% of the market, but according to the analyst, Transparency Market Research, it is one of the fastest expanding vertical. Analysts are of the opinion that LEDs would steer revenue growth in the near future. It was estimated that LEDs would outperform Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) with regards to commercial and residential interior lighting applications. LEDs are also gaining ground in street lighting.


The US has established legislations that promote LED technology. The department of energy’s (DoE) solid state lighting program facilitates collaboration between the lighting and components sector with emphasis on R&D, industry standards and product evaluation. According to a 2013 DoE yearly report, solid state lighting can save 217TWhr by 2025. In order to accomplish the objective, enhancements in luminaire efficacy to 200lumen/W would be required.


LED suppliers spearheaded the technological advancements (chip/package level) with emphasis on enhancing light extraction and thermal effectiveness. Again, cost plays a significant role in determining the speed of adoption. The LED market globally is projected to surpass US$ 15 billion by 2016. The future of opt couplers also looks encouraging. The need for decreasing equipment in compliance with IEC regulations is steering innovation.


The IEC standards can be applied to an entire gamut of commercial equipment/white goods. Again, designers must substitute electromechanical relays with miniature opt couplers. The potential market for opt couples include “green field applications” such as hybrid/electric vehicles, smart meters and solar energy. Innovations in optoelectronic technology would assist in decreasing power consumption. Governments across the globe are focused on reducing carbon, and have adopted smart meters on a mega scale.


The EU is committed to achieving smart meter goals (80%) by 2020. In the future, technical personnel would be entrusted with developing optoelectronic semiconductors. Researchers believe the emerging sector of plasmonics can enhance scope for technologies like photovoltaic’s LEDs. Plasmonics leverages the fluctuations in the density of electrons that are created when photons collide with a metal surface.


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