US Patent 9,709,258 Modular Lighting System and Method Employing Loosely Constrained Magnetic Structures

Abstract

A lighting system including modules containing LEDs or other electroluminescent devices and loosely constrained magnetic structures at least partially contained within cavities in the module substrate that are connected to fixtures under magnetic force. The loosely constrained magnetic structures accommodate mechanical variations in the system and provide a method to connect modules mechanically, electrically and thermally to different fixtures or positions in fixtures without tools. The relatively short distance separating magnetic structures provides high connection forces with the use of relatively small magnets. Magnets and electrical contacts are not located directly between the LED subassembly and the fixture, which provides higher thermal conductivity pathways to remove heat from the LEDs. Biasing members may be used to increase thermal contact. Magnetic structures may, but are not required, to conduct electricity. Fixtures that attach to modules include rails, sockets, heat sinks and two-dimensional structures with recessed electrodes for improved electrical safety.

Claims

1. A magnetic module comprising: an electrically powered element that emits electromagnetic energy; a thermal conduction pathway, wherein the thermal conduction pathway extends from directly under the element that emits electromagnetic energy to the bottom of the module; a first electronic substrate comprising: i. a dielectric layer; and ii. an electrical circuit comprising electrical conductors; a magnet cavity, wherein at least a portion of the lower surface of the magnet cavity comprises an element of the first electronic substrate; a magnetic structure contained at least partially within the magnet cavity, wherein the magnetic structure is not located in the thermal conduction pathway directly under the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; an electrical contact that projects below an adjacent portion of the bottom surface of the module; and a spring member responsive to a mechanical force applied to the bottom surface of the thermal conduction pathway wherein deflection of the spring member results in movement of the bottom surface of the thermal conduction pathway relative to the top surface of the module. 

2. The magnetic module according to claim 1 wherein the first electronic substrate comprises a flexible circuit; wherein the electrically powered element that radiates electromagnetic energy is electrically attached to the flexible circuit; and wherein the electrical contact comprises a portion of the flexible circuit. 

3. The magnetic module according to claim 1 wherein the electrically powered element that emits electromagnetic energy comprises: a. a second electronic substrate wherein the second electronic substrate is electrically connected to the first electronic substrate; and b. a solid state light emitter wherein the solid state light emitter is mounted on the top surface of the second electronic substrate. 

4. The magnetic module according to claim 3 wherein the first electronic substrate comprises a through hole; and wherein the second electronic substrate is electrically connected to the first electronic substrate with the solid state light emitter positioned above or below the through hole. 

5. The magnetic module according to claim 3 wherein the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate comprises a window; and wherein the electrical connection between the first electronic substrate and the second electronic substrate comprises a solder connection extending through the window in the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate. 

6. The magnetic module according to claim 1 wherein the magnetic structure comprises a permanent magnet that provides at least two pounds of magnetic attraction force. 

7. The magnetic module according to claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the magnetic structure is positioned within about 0.3 mm of the bottom surface of the module proximate the magnet cavity. 

8. The magnetic module according to claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the magnetic structure is loosely contained within the magnet cavity. 

9. The magnetic module according to claim 8 wherein at least a portion of the electrical contact is located below at least a portion of the magnet cavity and wherein reducing the projection distance of the electrical contact results in movement of the magnetic structure toward the top of the module. 

10. The magnetic module according to claim 1 comprising an electrical circuit path; wherein the electrical circuit path extends between the electrical contact and the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; wherein the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate comprises a window; and wherein the electrical circuit path passes through the window in the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate. 

11. The magnetic module according to claim 1 comprising an electrical circuit path that extends from the top surface of the first electronic substrate to the bottom surface of the module; wherein the electrical circuit path comprises a spring member; and wherein the electrical contact comprises a portion of the spring member. 

12. The magnetic module according to claim 1 further comprising a housing wherein a boundary of the magnet cavity comprises the housing. 

13. The magnetic module according to claim 12 wherein the housing comprises a radiation cavity; wherein electromagnetic energy is emitted into the radiation cavity; and wherein the housing comprises material that transmits electromagnetic radiation. 

14. The magnetic module according to claim 13 wherein at least a portion of the magnet cavity is separated from the radiation cavity. 

15. The magnetic module according to claim 12 comprising means for environmental sealing of the interior of the module wherein the means for environmental sealing comprise the housing and the first electronic substrate. 

16. A magnetic module comprising: an electrically powered element that radiates electromagnetic energy having a thermal conduction interface on the bottom side of the element; a thermal conduction pathway, wherein the thermal conduction pathway is configured to be in thermal contact with the thermal conduction interface of the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; an electrical contact pad; an electrical path between the electrical contact pad and the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; a first electronic substrate comprising: i) an electrical circuit trace comprising a portion of the electrical path between the electrical contact and the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; ii) a dielectric layer wherein at least a portion of the dielectric layer supports the electrical circuit trace; and a cavity, wherein a portion of the boundary of the cavity comprises an element of the first electronic substrate; and a magnetic structure; wherein the magnetic structure is loosely constrained and located at least partially within the cavity; and wherein the magnetic structure is not located in the thermal conduction pathway directly under the element that radiates electromagnetic energy. 

17. The magnetic module according to claim 16 wherein the electrical contact pad comprises a metal foil. 

18. The magnetic module according to claim 16 comprising a second electronic substrate mechanically coupled to the bottom side of the first electronic substrate wherein the element that radiates electromagnetic energy is mounted on the top side of the second electronic substrate and wherein the thermal conduction pathway comprises a portion of the second electronic substrate; and wherein the first electronic substrate further comprises a radiation through hole wherein the radiation through hole is sized to provide an overlap of portions of the first and second substrates and positioned so that the radiation emitted from the top side of the element that radiates electromagnetic energy is not obstructed by the first electronic substrate. 

19. The magnetic module according to claim 18 comprising an opening in the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate adjacent to the radiation through hole in the first electronic substrate wherein the electrical circuit path from the electrical contact structure on the first electronic substrate to the element that radiates electromagnetic energy on the second electronic substrate extends through the opening in the dielectric layer. 

20. The magnetic module according to claim 16 wherein the first electronic substrate comprises at least one of an epoxy glass printed circuit board, a ceramic substrate, a metal-core printed circuit board, a rigid-flex printed circuit board, a molded circuit substrate, and a flexible circuit. 

21. The magnetic module according to claim 20 wherein the thermal conduction pathway comprises at least one cavity filled with material having higher thermal conductivity than the thermal conductivity of the dielectric layer of the first electronic substrate. 

22. The magnetic module according to claim 16 wherein the first electronic substrate comprises a printed circuit board of laminar structure comprising at least one metal foil layer and at least one dielectric layer and wherein the electrical contact pad comprises a portion of the foil layer of the printed circuit board. 

23. The magnetic module according to claim 16 comprising a metal plate having top and bottom surfaces wherein the metal plate comprises a portion of the thermal conduction pathway under the element that radiates electromagnetic energy; and wherein the first electronic substrate comprises a flexible printed circuit comprising: a. at least one flexible electrical conductor layer; and b. at least one flexible dielectric layer; and wherein the flexible circuit is shaped to have portions located on the top surface and the bottom surface of the metal plate. 

24. The magnetic module according to claim 23 wherein the metal plate comprises one or more through holes and wherein the magnet cavity comprises a through hole in the metal plate and wherein the flexible circuit is routed through a through hole in the metal plate. 

25. The magnetic module according to claim 16 wherein a portion of the first electronic substrate comprises slits or thinned regions configured to increase mechanical compliancy. 

26. The magnetic module according to claim 16 further comprising a housing wherein the housing extends over the top of the magnetic structure and the element that radiates electromagnetic energy. 

27. A magnetic module comprising: a. one or more electrically powered elements that radiate electromagnetic energy; b. two or more electrical contacts configured for providing electrical power to the one or more elements that radiate electromagnetic energy when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture comprising electrical connections; c. a thermal conduction pathway for removing heat from the module wherein the thermal conduction pathway terminates in a thermal conduction pathway interface on the bottom side of the module located directly under the one or more elements that radiate electromagnetic energy; d. one or more magnetic structures comprising a permanent magnet configured to provide electrical contact biasing forces on the two or more electrical contacts when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture comprising electrical connections wherein the magnetic structures are not located directly under the one or more elements that radiate electromagnetic energy; and e. a compliant structure configured to provide a mechanical biasing force on the thermal conduction pathway interface when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture, wherein the magnitude of the mechanical biasing force on the thermal conduction pathway interface is not essentially the same as the sum of the electrical contact forces on the two or more electrical contacts when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture. 

28. The magnetic module according to claim 27 wherein the mechanical biasing force on the thermal conduction pathway interface is more than about twice the magnitude of the mechanical biasing force on one of the electrical contacts when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture comprising electrical connections. 

29. The magnetic module according to claim 27 wherein at least one of the electrical contacts and the thermal conduction pathway interface protrude below at least a portion of the lower surface of the module that is located between the at least one electrical contact and the thermal conduction interface. 

30. The magnetic module according to claim 29 wherein the protrusion distance of the at least one of the electrical contacts and the thermal conduction pathway interface is configured to reduce when the module is coupled to a magnetic fixture.