Nichia just announced their new LED technology, the 2-in-1 tunable white LED. It will allow a range of color temperatures to be emitted from a single, small, LED package. Ok, but who cares? Optical engineers care! This development will allow us to design lighting in a more controlled way than ever before which can go from warm to cool-colored white light.
We don’t see literature yet on what the range is exactly, but to imagine the concept, think of your dining room lit by a candle-light kind of warm white, and then making that bluer until it’s that clinical, white-room kind of white you could do lab work under.
For the optical engineer (OE) to design this functionality into your lighting, we’d typically need to use at least 2 separate LEDs. The problem with that is it at least *doubles* the surface area of your fixture’s light source. OE’s need the *smallest emitting surface area possible* to get the most controlled light direction. Each groove in your reflector/lens/ film directing the light can only be aligned with 1 point on the LED - let’s say, the center point. Any ray NOT coming from the center, will ultimately not go precisely where you want it to. And the further from center, the farther from ideal that ray will fly, because physics.
But if the LED gets smaller, the light beam coming out can be tighter with light going more closely to right where you want it. Plus, the size of your optics can potentially be smaller which means the size of your overall fixture could potentially be smaller.
So, the smaller the light emitting surface, the more cool things OE’s can design! Way to go, Nichia.