BMW is set to introduce laser lights within the next 2-3 years. Hanafi Abdul, BMW's optical systems designer, told Edmunds Inside Line that the technology is ready for production. The technology made its first public appearance on the i8 supercar concept, but Abdul says it might debut on other models before the production i8 appears in 2013.
Laser lighting offers a number of key advantages over LEDs. BMW claims its system, developed with Nichia in Japan, is 1,000 times brighter and 100 times smaller than the traditional square cells used in LED lighting. With no need for traditional headlights, this could have a dramatic impact on the styling of future BMWs. The second benefit is efficiency. Abdul says a laser is twice as efficient as an equivalent LED system, which would have a significant impact on fuel consumption.
The technology uses a photonic process. Gallium nitride (GaN) is employed to create a blue light, which is turned into white light with the aid of a phosphor disc. It is already used in medical and military applications, and Abdul says there are no safety or legislative concerns providing a Class 1 laser is used. The system has a life of 10,000 hours. —Paul DucheneBack to News