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UVC LED Market Could Double In 2020

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Yole’s analysts forecast the UCV LEDS will ramp from $144 million in 2019 to reach $308 million in 2020

Like other coronaviruses, COVID-19 can be destroyed by UVC radiation, which has created momentum for the UVC LED industry. Yole Développement forecasts that from $144 million in 2019, the UVC LED market will more than double in 2020 to reach $308 million.

It could have been even bigger if production capacity could keep up with demand. Yole's analysts expect it to be worth more than $2.5 billion in 2025, driven first by surface applications and then water ones.

As analyzed by Yole's team in the new ‘UV LEDs - Market and Technology Trends 2020' report, from $20 million in 2008, UV LEDs reached a first milestone in 2015 by reaching $100 million. Such growth was mostly driven by UVA LEDs that were increasingly used in UV curing applications.

But further growth was then restricted by the industry's overcapacity and strong price pressure following the massive entry of visible LED players starting from 2012. In this context, the attention of the industry was then focused on UVC LEDs that could act as a game-changer for disinfection/purification applications. But UVC LED technology is intrinsically different than for UVA LEDs.

And whereas UVA LEDs' EQE has rapidly reached more than 50 percent, UVC LEDs' EQE is still below 10 percent in most commercial devices. Consequently, the technology was not considered mature by integrators and only early adopters started implementing it. 


“But that was before COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has one of the highest reproduction/transmissibility rates compared to all viruses that have emerged in our modern society”, commented Yole analyst Pierrick Boulay.


To reduce spread of the disease, many recommendations have been made by the World Health Organization and governments/authorities. But those best practices are mostly preventing infection from direct contacts. For infection based on close contacts or indirect ones through contaminated objects or surfaces, disinfection technologies are required to further reduce spread of the virus. In this field, UV lighting, which can deactivate bacteria and viruses through physical methods, has gained unprecedented attention.

In the ‘UV-C LEDs at the Time of COVID-19' report, Joël Thomé from Yole's sister company PISEO says: “With the COVID-19 epidemic, many UVC products, mainly for surface disinfection, are appearing on the market. The current regulations and standards cover the safety aspects related to the use of these devices, but do not cover the disinfection aspect.”

For now, manufacturers of disinfection systems generally rely on scientific publications and have their products tested by microbiology laboratories as a guarantee of the quality of their product in terms of disinfection. However, even a laboratory test is not a guarantee for the user, as the test conditions may be different from the conditions of use (type of surface, etc.).

Eventually, faced with the photo-biological risk, countries have decided to ban the sale and use of UVC disinfection products outside the medical environment.

Yole's UV LED report includes a dedicated part focused on the UV lamp. Some traditional UV lamp manufacturers have already made a move to benefit from this momentum through increasing capacity of their production lines and/or development of new products. For instance Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, which has a plan to multiply its production capacity eightfold very rapidly.

Another trend is related to the development of far-UVC lamps that emit at wavelengths around 222nm to get rid of harmful effects of traditional UVC wavelengths.
Pars Mukish from Yole says: “The traditional UV lamp industry has also a role to play as UVC LEDs are still less efficient and more expensive than traditional UV lamps. UVC lamps also have the advantage of fixed specifications, structural design, and circuits. These features allow manufacturers to easily produce systems according to specific requirements of the application, accelerating development time of products. Finally, there is still some lack of knowledge about UVC LEDs' disinfecting effectiveness, which will benefit incumbent technology”.


At the end of the day, Yole expects such growth in the UV lamp business to come back to UV LED when the technology is on par with traditional UV lamps. Such a transition might then also further increase value at the system level.

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