The Cree XB-D LED just announced today is being released into the wild to start bringing high quality and high output LED fixtures down to a price range that will start to compete with the many budget fixtures that are currently on the market. How Cree is accomplishing this increased performance per dollar in the Cree XB-D is by leveraging their long standing expertise in silicon carbide manufacturing (used heavily in the diode, MOSFET, and RF side of their business) to bring the cost of manufacturing these LEDs down.
Silicon carbide is an alternative to the sapphire material that is used in the production of LEDs. Sapphire substrates are expensive to produce, so silicon carbide has been pegged as the next successor, being cheaper and faster to produce using more traditional semiconductor manufacturing techniques. This means cheaper LEDs for one and all. There have been some hurdles to overcome using this material, but companies like Cree and Bridgelux have both been making great strides in making this feasible.
The new Cree XB-D LED is the first mass produced silicon carbide LED that we are aware of. Cree is claiming that the XB-D has twice the lumens-per-dollar of other LEDs, but how that plays out compared to their other current LEDs is yet to be seen. It would be safe to assume that pricing in volume will be lower than current XP series LEDs, bringing it closer to the cost of Asian LEDs.
Beyond cost, the new Cre XB-D LED sports a 48% smaller footprint than the XP-E, and is able to deliver up to 136lm/W in cool white, putting it close to the performance level of the Cree XP-G and XP-E HEW, and the Luxeon Rebel ES. Maximum drive current tops out at 1000mA to deliver up to 287lm at 85C.
Hopefully we will start to see colored LEDs introduced to this XB series to make this LED more appealing to reef lighting manufacturers and DIYers alike. If the price comes in at a reasonable level, this could be the LED to watch this year. [ Cree ]