Laser light is no vision any more

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Laser light for automotive lighting has long time
been just a vision. But now it has the potential to become a new trend in automotive lighting! The BMW i8 is the first production vehicle in the world to use laser headlights on public streets – here this technology was offered for the first time. As a system partner, OSRAM has made a decisive contribution in the development of this innovative laser technology.

OSRAM played a key role in the laser light innovation and is once again at the forefront of the next lighting revolution in the automotive sector, after halogen, xenon, and LED technology.

OSRAM´s laser technology for the first time presented in the BMW i8

Thanks to the laser module developed largely by OSRAM, which is integrated into the full-LED headlights, the BMW i8’s high beam has a range of up to 600 meters - double that currently offered by conventional LED high-beam technology. “We are harnessing the physical benefits of the laser,” explains Hans-Joachim Schwabe, CEO of OSRAM Specialty Lighting. “Laser diodes can create a lot of light in a very small area.”

With laser diodes, headlights can be made even smaller in the future by very high light intensity

One laser diode generates an almost punctiform luminous flux on a few thousandths of a millimeter. Laser diodes are particularly impressive due to the fact that they are around ten times smaller than LEDs! This means that very small lenses can be used to fan out the beam of light. The light intensity is also very high, it exceeds far that of existing light sources. This means that headlights can be made even smaller in the future – without having to compromise on light intensity.

The laser high beam in BMW i8 is based on a development from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors’ research laboratories in Regensburg, Germany. It is only within the past few years that blue laser diodes with enough power at least one watt have become available.They are based on indium gallium nitride technology and were originally developed for professional projectors.

Using laser light for cars is a completely new ground

BMW i8 only offers the laser high beam as an option, a start has been made. “The significant safety advantage offered by the greater field of vision will also lead to large-series applications within a few years,” says Schwabe