This week’s EYE ON NPI (video) is like a beam of sunlight shining into your life – it’s the Cree XP-G3 Photophyll™ Select LEDs!
These are high-power illumination LEDs that are designed specifically for horticulture lighting.
Before we begin – we do want to clarify that you don’t have to worry about these LEDs being from the Kree-with-a-K – the powerful blue-skinned and technically advanced humanoid race that antagonize the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
No, these are from the technically advanced and very peaceful Cree corporation, who do not have blue skin but do make powerful blue LEDs. Cree-with-a-C is famous for their wide range of powerful LEDs that are available with precision binned frequencies.
To create an LED, we first need to create a diode (that’s the D in LED) – with P-doped and N-doped silicon; the two doping materials are specifically picked so that when current is passed through, photons are emitted that match a desired frequency.
Originally we only had Gallium-Arsenide which could make red light, then with tweaking we could move the frequency around to get yellow or light green. Then new materials were discovered to give green, blue light or even UV. You’ll note on that Wikipedia article that the frequencies have a range – and depending on the doping techniques the frequency can shift around. Low cost LEDs just come in “Dim Red” or “Bright Green” and are not guaranteed to all match color and brightness – although they tend to be close.
If you need perfect color and brightness matching you need to get binned LEDs: When manufactured, the LEDs are quickly tested in each batch to determine the exact frequency and then placed into a ‘bin’ labelled with that value. Whenever you buy that LED you’re guaranteed to get ones that emit the same frequency – within some established error margin. You pay more but have fewer surprises – that’s Cree’s expertise.
For growing plants, of course it’s easiest to just stick them under the sun which does a great job of providing the sunlight photons required to kick off photosynthesis. But perhaps there’s not enough light where you’re at, or you need to have the plants indoors to protect them from weather, or they’re seedlings and it isn’t spring. That’s where grow lights come in!
There’s a ton of research into the science of what kind of lights work best for different plants – historically folks used fluorescent or halide lamps, but LEDs have the benefit of not dimming or burning out over time as long as they are heat-sinked – and even better you may not even need active cooling. Make sure to follow the Cree documentation on packaging and heat-sinking, and use aluminum-backed PCBs to help diffuse heat.
If this spring has inspired you to dabble in a green thumb, or maybe you have a horticultural-science product you’re developing, the Cree XP-G3 Photophyll Select LEDs will be super efficient for any cyber-plant grow lighting system.
And best of all, they’re in stock right now at Digi-Key for immediate shipment, in a variety of binned ratios. Order today and you’ll be glowing and growing by tomorrow afternoon.
See the Cree video below: