Displays
PhlatLight: Bringing More Color to TVs
This revolutionary technology is making TVs brighter and more colorful over a longer period of time.
Phlatlight
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June 03, 2008 by Dennis P. Barker

The focal point of a new breed of DLP HDTVs is the use of Luminus Devices’ PhlatLight technology. This innovative illumination technology is a revolutionary light source that lasts the entire lifetime of the TV (over 60,000 hours and may be has high as 100,000 hours), and delivers a consistent picture without fading, saving consumers lamp replacement costs and inconvenience over the life of the set. Needless to say, it’s setting a new standard in HDTV performance and reliability.

What is PhlatLight?
PhlatLight technology is a new type of solid state lighting source that combines the benefits of both LED (Light Emitting Diode) and laser technologies. This unique, solid state lighting technology is ideal for display and illumination applications that require high brightness and the efficient harnessing of light from a small point source. Spun out of research at MIT, Luminus’ PhlatLight technology is an efficient way to maximize light emission from an LED.

The name PhlatLight is derived from its underlying photonic lattice structures. Photonic lattices are complex arrays of sub-wavelength microstructures in a solid dielectric material that can control and radically influence the propagation of light in different directions. This new engineering discipline, combining principles of electromagnetism with the concepts of solid-state physics, has numerous applications in optics and optoelectronics. PhlatLight devices use photonic lattice patterns to extract more light out of the LED more efficiently. These sub-wavelength microstructures direct more light to the surface of the LED, they allow light to emit from the LED more efficiently, and they influence the direction in which the light is emitted.  “PhlatLight has the ability to come in a wider range of LED shapes, sizes or colors and the package design allows a much wider thermal and electrical operating range than conventional LEDs, which creates LEDs many times brighter than have ever been available,” says Paul Frederickson, Marketing Manager, Luminus Devices.

The Benefits
Televisions powered by PhlatLight technology produce a reported 40 percent more color than traditional lamp-based TVs due to the technology’s unique ability to individually create pure, primary colors, which allows owners to enjoy superior color reproduction. PhlatLight technology eliminates mechanical noise that is sometimes prevalent in TVs that are equipped with color wheels, and the so-called “rainbow effect” discernable by some DLP viewers. As well, high-wattage lamps are not needed to provide illumination. Since bulb warm-up time is unnecessary also, the picture appears instantly with full brightness. In addition, TVs with PhlatLight illumination are more environmentally friendly because they eliminate the conventional mercury-arc lamp that requires repeated replacement during the lifetime of the TV. This type of lamp can cost the user several hundred dollars upon replacement.

Currently, Samsung is the only television manufacturer to offer a line of PhlatLight-enabled DLP HDTVs. The Samsung HL-T61A750 (61-in.) or 67A750 (67-in.), for example, is illuminated using a single PhlatLight PT120 chipset, which was specifically designed and optimized for use with the Texas Instruments xHD5 1080p DLP chipset. The PhlatLight PT120 is a three-color system that includes a red, green and blue LED. Each LED is a single, large area monolithic chip that can sustain extremely high power and fast pulsing. The PT120’s red, green and blue LEDs combine to produce pure, accurate sequential colored light and cycle at 2.9 KHz, 48 times faster than traditional television frame rates, creating a smooth, stable color and superior motion quality. The red, green and blue LEDs in the PT120 chipset combine to produce more than 3,000 white lumens under normal operating conditions (2,000 white lumens under pulsed operation), which is enough brightness to illuminate rear projection TVs up to 67 inches with a single RGB chipset. This new Samsung model also offers a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. 

The PhlatLight chipset does a heck of a job producing very bright images better than most stand-alone lamps. The fact that PhlatLight-enabled rear projection DLP HDTVs don’t have a UHP lamp or color wheel means the images will never get dim nor will there be any rainbow effect (which has been a major defect to DLP technology). And, the fact that you never have to change a bulb is certainly a plus. Now, instead of waiting for the set to warm up as in other DLP TVs, the PhlatLight chipset allows for “instant on,” which is as it should be just like it was with those “old-fashioned” CRTs. And, once on, the images from all sources were extremely pleasing on the eye. In addition, the PhlatLight PT120 projection chipset provides additional benefits: a wider color range that exceeds the NTSC standards; fast switching properties that enable electronic control of specific color points and light intensity on a frame by frame basis; mercury-free environmentally-friendly technology; and reliability over its long lifetime (up to 100,000 hours). PhlatLight provides uniform brightness over the entire LED surface, which means that it can direct more light to individual areas of the screen. So, if you want that big screen experience, you don’t need a flat-panel set unless you plan on hanging it on the wall. This type of set fills the bill quite nicely. At a depth of only 14-inches, it sits nicely on any TV base that is an excellent place to put all of your components anyway.

The Future
Looking towards the future, PhlatLight will bring its brightness, flexibility and breakthrough color and contrast performance to home theater front projectors. The technology will also be included in a new generation of ultra portable pocket projectors. This technology is also being used in a wide range of lighting applications in the architectural, entertainment and medical fields. It allows fixture designers to use LED’s in applications never thought possible.

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Dennis P. Barker - Contributing Writer
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.

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