Shortage of chips threatens LED supplies

Posted by a staff writer

Strong demand for LEDs for backlit applications and lighting has created a shortage in the supply chain that will last until the first quarter of 2010.

So says market research company LEDinside, maintaining that supplies of chips have failed to ramp.

The situation has partly been caused by a rush to create LED backlit applications for both notebooks and TVs. The penetration of LED backlighting in botebooks has increased dramatically and LEDinside forecasts that the penetration into this market for calendar year 2009 is likely to reach 52 percent.

The biggest manufacturer for LED chips used in notebooks is Japanese company Nichia.

There's also demand for LED chips in smartphone applications, and a combination of these factors has created the shortage. This chart from LEDinside shows mainstream LED price trends - the component prices are in US dollars. If, as the market research company suggests, there are shortages, it's odd to see that prices are falling rather than rising.

IF (mA) Vf Lumin High Low %
Notebooks 20 3.2 1800-2300mcd 0.12 0.07 -5%
Netbooks 20 3.2 1800-2000mcd 0.07 0.045 -10%
Phones 20 3.2 1400-1800mcd 0.07 0.03 -5%
High power 350 3.6 60-100Lm/W 1-2 0.6-1.5 -8 to
-4%