Cree has been manufacturing press releases on brighter LEDs almost as fast as they are (presumably) making the LEDs themselves. And, in one release, they credit a technology they call SC3 for the advances. But, as with many such technology brandings, they didn’t really say much about what it was.
Was it a revolutionary new approach? A big “aha” moment catapulting them forward? Or a collection of incremental things that they bound together and let the marketing department call a “technology”?
Well, its kinda some of both. There’s one big differentiator: they (and only they, as they tell it) use SiC, which they say is 5-10% more efficient, instead of sapphire. We’ve discussed the use of SiC for power devices, so we know there are other companies taking advantage of SiC technology. Why not for LEDs?
Because it’s too expensive. So… why can Cree do it? Because they make their own wafers.
Cree has been manufacturing SiC wafers for 20 or so years. They get to use their own stock; all other LED manufacturers purchase their stock from someone else, and that seems to be enough to make the difference economically for Cree. At least as they tell it.
There are other aspects to what constitutes SC3, encompassing chip design (they have little to say about this other than the fact that the “X” configuration on some of the LEDs hints at some elements); packaging (like a slightly larger dome – talk about incremental!); and the phosphors they use (absolutely tight-lipped about this… sorry… I tried…).
You can scan their release (and follow their links) yourself to see if you can discern anything more. If you do, please share with us in comments below!