BMW is currently developing laser light as a progression from LED technology. Laser light could offer more safety for drivers whilst providing energy saving benefits and therefore improving fuel economy.
Laser light is entirely different from sunlight as well as a number of artificial lighting which is commonly used. The light waves from laser all have the same length (monochromatic) and it is known as a 'coherent' light source, meaning the waves have a constant phase different. The effect of which is that laser lighting can produce a near-parallel beam with an intensity which is a thousand times greater than conventional LEDs. These features could be utilised in vehicle headlights for new functions.
Due to the size of laser diodes - one hundred times smaller than conventional LED lighting - headlights could in theory be much smaller in terms of height and width. However, BMW engineers do not plan to do this, instead reducing the depth of the headlight allowing them to be incorporated into new body styling designs.
Laser lighting is highly efficient; LED lighting generates around 100 lumens per watt, where as laser lighting generates around 170 lumens, which will allow an improvement in efficiency of the overall vehicle. Laser technology already features in the BMW i8 Concept.
A key consideration of developing laser lighting is safety, with BMW considering eye safety as a top priority. Therefore, the light emitted from the laser diode will be converted by using a fluorescent phosphor material inside the headlight to produce a very bright and pleasing pure white light. This way, BMW can implement familiar and new lighting functions such as Adaptive Headlights, 'Dynamic Light Spot' and the 'Anti Dazzle High Beam Assist' as well as allowing BMW to develop entirely new functions with minimal power consumption.
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