Luxim’s LIFI Technology – A Follow-Up with Tony McGettigan at Luxim

One of my favorite things about digging into our industries is the people and relationships I make through research and interviews.

I recently had an email chat with Tony McGettican at Luxim Corporation, the folks who are making the LIFI plasma lamp.  Their unique and innovative product is becoming widely spread across all of the lighting industries, and it’s been an exciting addition to the Entertainment industry.  Seachanger is using a LIFI lamp in their NEMO fixtures, Robe is using a LIFI lamp in their ROBIN moving heads, and as the industries realize the merits of plasma tech, we’ll see a lot more of that lamp in the very near future.

I asked Tony a few followup questions a few weeks ago, after having a great email interview with him earlier in the year.  I’ve been tracking their progress for a long time, and I will continue to do so.  Questions and answers are below:

JimOnLight.com:  The last time we talked, Luxim’s LIFI source was just grabbing footing in the Entertainment lighting market with a plasma-source for Robe’s ROBIN series moving head. Now, great companies like Seachanger are getting in on the action with a LIFI source in their NEMO CMYG fixture. Are there other entertainment ventures that Luxim is participating in to date?

Tony McGettigan @ Luxim: We are very pleased with the Robe and Seachanger programs.  Each has been recognized in the industry as ground breaking in terms of performance and innovation.  There are several exciting new projects in the pipeline that we will be able to share more on later in 2010. You may be aware that Robe won the Innovation Award at PLASA in London as well as the SIEL Award in Paris last year.  In addition, the SeaChanger Nemo won the 2009 LIGHTFAIR Innovation award in New York.

JOL: How has the LIFI technology changed or improved since gaining partnerships in the entertainment industry?

Tony @ Luxim: We entered this sector with market-leading color quality and lifetime.  Our focus is now on increasing brightness.  We are doing this in two ways:

  • By developing more efficient systems at the current wattages, AND
  • By adding higher-wattage product offerings to our line-up

JOL: Has Luxim seen a larger market share in the infrastructure and civil lighting markets since the release of the LIFI product?

Tony @ Luxim: Our technology is being adopted in all sorts of applications from aquariums to grow lighting to zoos.  In the infrastructure and general lighting markets we are gaining share as a high-illuminance complement to LED solutions.  Several of our customers have a strategy of using LEDs in general lighting applications up to 15000 lumens and using our technology where higher output is required. We have a customer in the US that already has secured orders from 5 different cities and municipalities.

JOL: There’s lots of news stories about new and innovative LIFI applications, from aquarium tank lighting to mobile lighting applications for the construction industry. Can you give some insight on the new projects in related industries that Luxim is pursuing?

Tony @ Luxim: Here are a couple of examples where the unique attributes of our technology are helping our customers deliver better lighting solutions.

  • In Aquariums, our source can deliver excellent color quality AND excellent penetration into the water.  This dramatically improves the visitor experience.  The fish show beautifully while plants and corals can thrive deep below the tank surface.

  • In grow lighting, our sources increase the “seeding rate” and show faster, more efficient early-stage growth than competitive sources on the market.

There are many more examples, but this gives a flavor.  The uniqueness of our light source is apparent at first sight.  In each of our applications, customers are harnessing some of the unique features to deliver a superior overall lighting solution.

Jim, these are very exciting times at LUXIM.  Light Emitting Plasma is gaining significant acceptance in the marketplace and we continue to improve upon our technology.


Tony, we’re so excited to see what comes next for Luxim and the LIFI technology.  You have many fans in the JimOnLight.com community!  Thanks for your time, as always!

LDI 2009: SeaChanger’s Booth

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One of my favorite booths this year was SeaChanger’s booth.  Besides the fact that they have a great product and are using the LIFI lamp like rockstars, SeaChanger had their standard setup – Eileen Morris (gourmet chef and wife of Tom Morris at SeaChanger) cooked those of us at the conference some of the finest food I’ve ever eaten.  Most definitely the best omelet I’ve ever eaten.

The entire booth was lit by plasma sources – I have completely forgotten the percentage that Tom Stanziano gave me about how much less power the SeaChanger booth was using by having plasma lamps in their fixtures – but at least 30% less comes to mind.  The light from these LIFI sources and the SeaChanger optics is pretty stunning.  The booth itself is set up like a kitchen show – broadcast camera feeds to plasma screens, showing how nice the light appears on camera.

Quite frankly, it is a damned beautiful light.

Okay – omelets, Grand Marinier whipped creme on crepes, the SeaChanger color engine, and the LIFI lamp.  This was a good combination for LDI 2009 for me!

I have some really interesting stuff coming up about SeaChanger this week – you have to stay tuned, especially if you like glass color filters…

Check out some images of SeaChanger’s LDI 2009 exhibit:

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That’s my hand, and it’s resting on the cooling fins of the SeaChanger below using a LIFI lamp.  Awesome.

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SeaChanger Wash:

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Look!  It’s a Nautilus, a Profile, and a Wash!

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Thanks for the omelet, Eileen!

Martin Lighting and their Plasma Fixture

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LIFI, plasma lamp, Luxim, Ceravision, and high CRI are all terms we’ve been hearing in the news lately.  The plasma lamp is the hottest thing since Pop Tarts, and I have heard a lot of buzz lately with the industries regarding this technology.

Martin Lighting is working on a plasma lamp based fixture too – the philosophy is why not take this wonderful efficient source and create a whole new moving light around it?  I got some information from Brad at Martin – check it out!

Martin is dedicated to producing the leading, most advanced plasma light on the market. Its advantages are many – greater performance, greater cost benefits, and a smaller environmental footprint – yet implementing a new technology in products without exhaustive research and stringent testing can have risky consequences.

Only through a thorough research process and substantial investment can plasma’s true potential be unlocked. Martin is leading this intensive effort, including development of advanced optical and cooling systems for optimized performance.

What are we showing at Prolight +Sound?
Martin is proud to be showing at PL+S a new type of high intensity plasma source. R&D has built a number of plasma-based concept fixtures housed in existing MAC designs, but let me emphasize that we are not showing a prototype of a new MAC using a plasma source but instead will be presenting a technology showcase. We have built products to support our research and development, as well as to test and prove the new technology in actual fixtures under real world conditions.

It is important to understand that retrofitting the plasma source in conventional HID fixtures will not deliver the true benefits of plasma. It appears that some other manufacturers are trying to do this in order to get something quickly to the market, but we do not believe in such short cuts.

Having said that, we should not forget to mention that we are indeed working on real plasma fixtures but without revealing what that will be.

We also realize that this type of technology needs to be thoroughly tested before it is released as a commercial product. Our R&D team has already spent lots of time on research and have come very far. This work has lifted us to a position where we now have solutions to the many challenges that plasma presents. This intensive effort will allow us to soon bring commercial products to the market.

With this plasma showcase, we also want to enhance everyone’s understanding about what this interesting technology can bring in terms of real value propositions.

What is a plasma light source?
You can say that a plasma light is a tiny (the lamp is less than 9 millimeters) discharge lamp without any electrodes. Instead of applying a voltage and drawing a current through the lamp, the energy comes via a high frequency RF transmitter. The RF waves heat the materials inside the lamp and bring those materials to a plasma state so that the lamp emits light. This different method of transforming electricity into light has multiple benefits over the conventional way it’s done in a discharge lamp.

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What are the benefits?
The potential in the plasma light source is great and if this technology is applied to lighting fixtures in the right way, the benefits will be many. Some of the biggest are:

• Increased energy efficiency
• Greater light output
• Cooler, quieter fixtures
• Longer lamp life
• Compact for smaller fixture designs
• More uniform light output across rig
• More continuous color spectrum
• Near perfect CRI (95+)
• Better for the environment

The plasma source is efficient and very compact. This makes it work extremely efficiently in the optical system and the result is more light out of the fixture for the same power consumption.

With higher efficiency, the customer saves power, the fixture produces less heat, i.e. less A/C needed, and less fan cooling is required, which again means less noise and less dirt to clean out. Installation becomes easier and cheaper and money is saved on the power bill.

As a final note regarding efficiency, it is possible to dim the plasma lamp to very low levels, meaning that you further reduce power consumption when the light is dimmed.

Life and consistency
Lamp life of the plasma source is exceptional. Like LED and even HID sources, lamp life depends on how it is integrated, driven and cooled. We are already gaining a lot of know-how in this area, and you should expect to see fixtures with a lamp life of around 30,000 hours on full output! Although the initial cost of a plasma system is higher than HID, there is a very short payback time for the customer.

An additional benefit is that light output and color temperature is much more consistent over longer spans of time. This makes it a lot easier and cheaper to get 10 lights in the rig to all look the same.

Compactness
The plasma light source is very compact which means that we can produce more compact fixtures with greater performance than larger ones.

Color spectrum
The plasma lamp has a much more continuous color spectrum than an HID lamp. This can be seen and measured by a higher CRI, and some colors will appear more vibrant. People or objects that are illuminated will also appear better and in more authentic color tones.

Better for the environment
The high energy efficiency has potential for reducing the carbon footprint by 30-50% which can be further increased via the power saving features. This greatly supports our Green Martin strategy as it allows us to produce fixtures with less environmental impact.

Further, the plasma lamp contains much less mercury and other toxic materials than HID lamps and combining this with the extremely long plasma life, total waste of those materials will only be a fraction of HID’s.

At Prolight + Sound we are ready to support you and your customers by explaining about our plasma technology in greater depth and by giving them an impression of where we are with this technology.

Remember, we are not there to show a prototype of a plasma fixture but to educate about plasma technology.

Thanks for the image, Paul!

Ceravision – Another Electrodeless Plasma Source

I just learned about a company called Ceravision – they’ve created a type of plasma lamp which uses microwaves to bring the metal halides in the lamp to the plasma phase.  Cool!  Another plasma lamp creator on the market!  I wonder what this is going to do to the automated lighting and architectural spectrum of fixtures?  Competition breeds innovation, and Luxim has been getting some unbelievable reviews lately.

Ceravision’s products seem to have a very wide range of operating wattages – from 50W to 5KW.  The microwave generator they have designed uses several different compounds for several different wattages.  I am intrigued by this, and I really want to get more information on this technology.  Check out power options:

Gallium Arsenide microwave power transistors between 50W and 400W
Gallium Nitride microwave power transistors between 50W and 400W
LD Mos Silicon microwave power transistors between 50W and 400W
Magnetron microwave power tubes between 100W and 5KW

There is a basic explanation on their site about the plasma technology.  The first paragraph gives you the direction their technology goes – they call their lamp a “burner” and claim a high CRI and CCT.  The burner is electrodeless.

Microwave energy at a frequency of 2.4 GHz is focused into a small transparent glass ampoule (called a Burner) containing a noble gas at low pressure and microgramme quantities of selected metal halide salts. The microwave energy focused into the waveguide containing the burner forms an electric field ionizing the noble gas molecules to rapidly form a gas plasma within the glass ampoule, the plasma begins to vaporize the metal halide salts present. The plasma and metal halide salts combine to emit light, this technique provides the ability to produce a broad spectral emission using simple chemical compounds. This molecular excitation is a unique feature of the technology and allows us to deliver the world’s first mercury-free High Intensity Discharge lamp that can deliver white light of exceptional purity (a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) measurement of 97 being achievable), and which also meets all current and projected regulations for control of radio frequency emission from any part of the system.

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I’ve got an inquiry into Ceravision – hopefully I’ll hear something soon so I can post.  I also have the first of my podcasts coming up – an interview with Tony McGettican of Luxim and Gil Densham of Cast Lighting – the WYSIWYG folks.  These are fun interviews – the Chris Kuroda interviews just fired me off in the right direction, because I really enjoy conducting these things and getting to talk one-on-one with creators.


NEMO: A LIFI Color Engine

Seachanger, the color mixing engine that you attach to a Source Four ellipsoidal, has just announced that they are selling a high-output color engine that runs on a LIFI lamp.  LIFI – I blogged about this a few days ago, but it means “Light Fidelity.”  It’s a high output lamp, very efficient, and uses plasma.

Plasma.  The NEMO is 83 lumens per Watt.  EIGHTY THREE.
Did I mention 83 lumens per Watt?  NEMO outputs 15,000 lumens on a mere 180W of power.

The Seachanger NEMO, from older posts I made about the regular spot and wash units, is also the kind of unit where you attach a Source Four barrel to the device and go.  NEMO is basically an HID source (in output terms) for a Source Four – like the Mole Richardson lamp units for the Source Four.  All of the same filters and xG (extreme green) stuff come with the NEMO.

From the product page:

Say hello to Nemo, the latest in the SeaChanger range designed to deliver a new class of high-intensity lighting.

Nemo is the first ETC Source Four® compatible color engine with a LIFI® plasma source that delivers 15,000 lumens on a modest 180 watts of power. That’s over 6 times the efficiency of comparable color engines.

The SeaChanger Nemo uses existing ETC Source Four front-end barrels as well as an assortment of ETC FOV optics. It comes equipped with SeaChanger’s own Extreme Green wheel that extends the CMY color gamut to create more dramatic, vibrant colors.

Because of its lamp life, Nemo is the perfect solution for hard-to-reach installations, domes, atria and theme parks. It bridges the gap between incandescent and LED lighting at a price that’s within reach.

Go efficient. Go Green. Go Nemo!