Gentex, the past winner of three PACE awards, does it again. This year, the company achieves innovative excellence with a brilliant insight into how to create “white light” LEDs (light emitting diodes). A familiar example of an LED is the little green light that tells you if your PC monitor is on. Typically, LEDs are used as indicators, rather than as a source of illumination, because noone has so far discovered how to create white light of sufficient illuminating intensity at a reasonable cost. That is, until Gentex did it. The first Intrigue model from Oldsmobile used Gentex's innovation in its map light. But this is only the beginning, as Fred Bauer, CEO of Gentex, believes the automotive applications of the white light LED are unlimited both inside and outside the car. The stock market seemed to concur, as GNTX rose by over 50% immediately after announcing its innovation in early December of last year, before settling back to a 30% gain a few days later.
What is significant about a white light LED? Traditionally, LED-based white light is created by combining three LEDs (red, green, blue) or by adding indium gallium nitride to a single LED. Both of these methods are expensive. Gentex discovered that a less expensive white light solution was to combine two LEDs (blue-green and amber). The company has patented this binary solution.
The binary LED white light solution makes it economically feasible to convert all interior illumination sources from incandescent lamps to LEDs. LEDs are robust performers. They last five-times longer than incandescents, draw significantly less electricity, have lower operating temperatures, and are significantly more compact. These benefits allow new styling opportunities since fixtures do not have to be designed to allow for lamp replacements or heat dissipation.
The benefits of this innovation will be extended to many other applications where compact, durable lighting is needed - such as flashlights, aircraft cabin lighting, and appliances.