Diode Laser Lighting Could Compete With LED, Research Suggests

11/12/2011 01:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 12, 2012

New research shows that diode lasers could eventually compete with light emitting diodes (LEDs) for home and commercial lighting solutions. Sandia National Laboratories recently asked participants to rate various LED and diode laser lighting scenarios and found that in some situations consumers preferred the diode lasers.

LEDs are commonly thought of as the most energy-efficient replacements for the century-old incandescent bulbs. What is not often known is that LEDs lose efficiency at currents higher than 0.5 amps. The diode laser actually improves at higher currents, which means it can provide more light than LEDs at higher amps.

Not much research had been done with the diode lasers because of a widespread assumption that the lighting it produced was unpleasant to the human eye, according to Sandia. But the studies showed there was a statistically significant preference for the diode-laser-based white light over the warm and cool LED-based white light. There was no statistically significant preference between the diode-laser-based and either the neutral LED-based or incandescent white light.

The results aren't expected to cause an immediate shift to diode lasers, according to researchers, as diodes are more expensive to fabricate and both yellow and green laser diodes have a ways to go. The warm white diode laser light that was preferable to consumers is created by a combination of the four laser beams -- yellow, blue, green and red.