More power, less energy lossHigh-performance laser light from ZKW doubles illumination range of high beams
The BMW hybrid sports car i8, launched in the fall of 2014, is the first production vehicle in the world with the revolutionary laser high beams. The “laser boost” has a much higher light intensity than LEDs and can illuminate a range of about 600 meters. It supplements the standard powerful LED headlamps offered by the high-tech sports car and doubles the previous lighting range. This laser light is also significantly smaller and requires about 30 percent less energy than the already power-saving LED light. In addition to its high performance and efficiency, the system is particularly reliable: The encapsulated and crash-safe laser illuminant is scattered via a special, so-called phosphorus which converts it into a white high-beam light that is as bright as day.
The innovative laser light achieves around 70 percent more light yield than the current standard LED headlamps. The especially small laser light module enables the extremely compact headlamp design of the BMW i8. The light source consists of three laser diodes whose concentrated light beam is conducted through a phosphorus ceramic chip and an additional reflector, emerging from the headlamp as white, scattered light. The laser diodes put out 3 watts and their 0.3 millimeter light beam achieves a luminous flux of about 500 lumens. This means that the technology surpasses even LEDs that can reach about 250 lumens with a light beam diameter of 1 millimeter.
Higher light performance and range
The laser light has an extraordinarily high optical efficiency (the ratio of generated light to light yield on the road) at 70 percent. In comparison, LEDs only achieve about 40 percent and Xenon only 30 percent. At this higher concentration, the laser light therefore enables a greater light performance and range along with smaller optical systems and headlamp casings. The high beams generated by the laser system resemble daylight, which not only significantly improves night vision but is also perceived as a pleasant light source by the human eye. New development and simulation processes were used to meet the substantial challenges posed by the new laser technology.