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Laser lighting is next for forward lighting, according to Leclair and Jean-Paul Ravier, advanced development director-Valeo Lighting Systems, who says auto makers already are preparing such applications.

“After LEDs, there will be laser beams,” Ravier says. “It will be part of the market in the future, but LEDs will remain dominant.”

A laser could emit the headlight beams from a 0.4-in. (10-mm) slit in the front of the car, he says. The idea certainly will please designers, as many recent auto-show concepts have faces with narrow headlamp openings.


Systems using laser diodes would put more light on the road in very interesting ways.

Employing a layer of phosphor where several blue laser beams intersect, a secondary white light can be created with a potential for luminance about five times greater than the best current LED headlamps, Ravier says.

“Used in automotive applications,” he writes, “this high luminance source can allow new functions such as picture beam, or lighting systems with very compact output for very thin styling requests.”

Lasers already are used at concerts, for example, to project images on a wall. Fast-moving microelectronic-mechanical systems make a pattern appear fixed, although it is a light beam moving very fast. Thus, lasers could shine around the corner, automatically dim so as not to glare on an oncoming car and produce both low and high beams.

Lasers could handle more complex functions through:

* An adverse-weather beam that reduces the light relatively close to the car to cut glare for opposite drivers due to the reflection on a wet road.

* A high beam that extends further as vehicle speed increases.

* A marking light that illuminates a pedestrian standing by the road but doesn’t glare on his face.

* Road marking that puts extra light on the edges of the road.

* A navigation beam that casts a shadowy arrow in the light beam on the road to indicate the driver should change lanes or take the next exit.

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