Step aside, LEDs… BMW's laser lights are coming to town.
Laser lights have a one-thousand times higher intensity than LEDs and they use less than half the energy. Say hello to BMW's answer to Lexus' previous 10-year game-changing technology. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, first arrived in the U.S. on the Lexus LS 600h and were then popularized by Audi, beginning with their appearance on the R8. We first saw BMW's new laser tech on the futuristic i8 Concept car.
BMW has created a new light technology that should end up being the new trendsetter in terms of front fascia tech, a la the CD replacing the cassette tape. "We see a lot of advantages. We can reduce power consumption and weight, and it provides our stylists more freedom to produce beautiful shapes." said BMW's optical systems designer Hanafi Abdul. The new laser light technology works by starting with 3 laser diodes which generate a blue beam about 10 microns wide. They are aimed at small mirrors that reflect them on a lens (containing yellow phosphorus).
AutoNews reports that a single laser diode is one-hundredth the size of an LED diode, which allows designers to shrink the headlight significantly. Several problems still exist for the new technology, like creating a cooling system to avoid overheating. In any case, Abdul says that they will be ready within a few years and that the German automaker will discuss them more next year.