UVC LEDs: one solution to contain the COVID-19 pandemic

Extracted from:
- UV LEDs – Market and Technology Trends 2020, Yole Développement, 2020
- UV-C LEDs at the Time of COVID-19, PISEO, 2020


  • The UVC LED market could reach US$2.5 billion in 2025 with a 61% CAGR 2019-2025.
  • UV lamps are not left out - More business for UV LEDs in the end.
  • COVID-19 outbreak:
    The pandemic has created momentum for the UVC LED industry.
    It has created such a peak in demand that an overall shortage appeared across the entire UVC LED supply chain in 2020.
  • The overall industry is now looking to increase manufacturing capacity very rapidly.
  • Competitive landscape:
    Typically, LG Innotek and Seoul Viosys / Semiconductor have been key companies in getting the UVC LED market ready to emerge.
    Yole Développement (Yole) expects leaders like Seoul Viosys and NFKG to maintain their position in 2020 and 2021.
    But recent new entrants are close behind…

“Finally, we are here. After more than 10 years of waiting, in 2020, the UV LED market could ramp up and reach the billion-dollar mark very rapidly.” asserts Pars Mukish, Business Unit Manager, Solid-State Lighting & Display at Yole Développement (Yole).“There is good in everything bad, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has created some perfect use-casesfor the technology to spread across a rapidly-changing disinfection/purification market.”.
According to Joël Thomé, CEO of PISEO: “Indeed, according to the optic and photonic innovation platform, in the current context of health crisis due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the need to prevent contagion through disinfection has become a major issue. Like other coronaviruses, this new virus can be destroyed by UVC radiation. With the emergence of UVC LEDs, the question of the relevance of using this technology to stop the current epidemic arises”.

In this context, both companies, Yole and PISEO investigate disruptive LED technologies and related markets in depth, in order to point out the latest innovations and underline the business opportunities.
Released today, the UV LEDs – Market and Technology Trends 2020 report from Yole gives detailed analysis of the UVC LED market by disinfection application, of the UVC LED manufacturing cost and of the main UV LED applications. Including market forecast, supply chain, technology manufacturing, performance, price and industry analysis, this study reviews the global UV LED industry. This new report also studies COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the UV LED business.
In parallel, the UV-C LEDs at the Time of COVID-19 report from PISEO points out the artificial and principles for integrating UV-C LEDs and sizing systems for disinfection, in relation to the required doses. This report studies the dimensioning and implementation of UVC LED systems for disinfection and the characterization of their germicidal efficiency. It also analyzes the regulations and standardization of the UVC LED in Europe and provides the state of the art of UVC LED technology and the outlook for performance changes, compared to traditional UVC sources.

What is the status of the UV LED industry? What are the economic and technological challenges? What are the key drivers? Who are the suppliers to watch, and what innovative technologies are they working on? How does the COVID-19 outbreak impact each UV LED market segment? PISEO and Yole deliver today a detailed and comprehensive overview of this industry.

As analyzed by Yole’s team in the new UV LEDs – Market and Technology Trends 2020 report, from being worth around US$20 million in 2008, UV LEDs reached a first milestone in 2015 by attaining the US$100 million market level. Such growth was mostly driven by UVA LEDs that were increasingly used in UV curing applications. But further growth was then restricted by the industry’s overcapacity and strong price pressure following the massive entry of visible LED players starting from 2012. In this context, the attention of the industry was then focused on UVC LEDs that could act as a game-changer for disinfection/purification applications. But UVC LED technology is intrinsically different than for UVA LEDs. And whereas UVA LEDs’ EQE has rapidly reached more than 50%, UVC LEDs’ EQE is still below 10% in most commercial devices. Consequently, the technology was not considered mature by integrators and only early adopters started implementing it.
According to Pierrick Boulay, Market and Technology Analyst, Solid-State Lighting and Lighting Systems Photonics, Sensing & Display division at Yole:
“But that was before COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has one of the highest reproduction/transmissibility rates compared to all viruses that have emerged in our modern society”.
To reduce spread of the disease, many recommendations have been made by the World Health Organization and governments/authorities. But those best practices are mostly preventing infection from direct contacts. For infection based on close contacts or indirect ones through contaminated objects or surfaces, disinfection technologies are required to further reduce spread of the virus. In this field, UV lighting, which can deactivate bacteria and viruses through physical methods, has gained unprecedented attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created momentum for the UVC LED industry. From US$144 million in 2019, the UVC LED market is expected to more than double in 2020 to reach US$308 million. It could have been even bigger if production capacity could keep up with demand. With market growth now being triggered, Yole’s analysts expect it to be worth more than US$2.5 billion in 2025, driven first by surface applications and then water ones.
In the UV-C LEDs at the Time of COVID-19 report, Joël Thomé from PISEO asserts: “With the COVID-19 epidemic, many UVC products, mainly for surface disinfection, are appearing on the market. The current regulations and standards cover the safety aspects related to the use of these devices, but do not cover the disinfection aspect.”
For now, manufacturers of disinfection systems generally rely on scientific publications and have their products tested by microbiology laboratories as a guarantee of the quality of their product in terms of disinfection. However, even a laboratory test is not a guarantee for the user, as the test conditions may be different from the conditions of use (type of surface, etc.). Eventually, faced with the photo-biological risk, countries have decided to ban the sale and use of UVC disinfection products outside the medical environment.

Yole’s UV LED report also includes a dedicated part focused on the UV lamp. In this dynamic context, some traditional UV lamp manufacturers have already made a move to benefit from this momentum through increasing capacity of their production lines and/or development of new products. One concrete example is market leader Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, which has a plan to multiply its production capacity eightfold very rapidly. Another trend is related to the development of far-UVC lamps that emit at wavelengths around 222nm to get rid of harmful effects of traditional UVC wavelengths.
For Pars Mukish from Yole: “The traditional UV lamp industry has also a role to play as UVC LEDs are still less efficient and more expensive than traditional UV lamps. UVC lamps also have the advantage of fixed specifications, structural design, and circuits. These features allow manufacturers to easily produce systems according to specific requirements of the application, accelerating development time of products. Finally, there is still some lack of knowledge about UVC LEDs’ disinfecting effectiveness, which will benefit incumbent technology”.
At the end of the day, Yole expects such growth in the UV lamp business to come back to UV LED when the technology is on par with traditional UV lamps. Such a transition might then also further increase value at the system level.

All year long, Yole Développement and PISEO publish numerous reports dedicated to the lighting industry. In addition, experts realize various key presentations and organize key conferences. Throughout the year, discover the numerous solid-state lighting-related reports. Make sure to be aware of the latest news coming from the industry and get an overview of our activities, including interviews with leading companies and more on i-Micronews. Stay tuned!

CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
LED: Light Emitting Diodes
EQE: External Quantum Efficiency