Laser light in cars – throwing light on a safer future

(f.l.t.r.) Dr. rer. nat. Carsten Setzer, Dipl.-Ing. Christian Amann

Dr. rer. nat. Carsten Setzer (Spokesperson)
Dipl.-Ing. Christian Amann

OSRAM GmbH, Munich
BMW Group, Munich

Far more traffic accidents occur at night than during the daytime. Due to poor lighting conditions, drivers often recognize hazards too late, which considerably increases the accident risk. How can traffic safety at night be improved?

The answer was obvious to Dr. Carsten Setyer and Christian Amann: the luminance of the high beam setting must be improved to provide a level of visibility equivalent to daylight. The nominated engineers and their teams developed a system that meets this requirement and has been introduced in the first series vehicles in the meantime. The heart of the system is a laser light source that produces a bundled white laser of high intensity and efficiency. Carsten Setzer is Head of Automotive Lamps at OSRAM GmbH in Munich, Christian Amann is Head of Lighting Systems at the BMW Group in Munich.

During the development of the light source for the world’s first laser headlight, the two managers and their teams had a paradox to overcome that initially seemed insolvable: on the one hand, a laser is a virtual dot-shaped - and thus an ideal - source of light, but in principle it only produces a monochromatic light of a certain frequency. On the other hand, white light is needed for headlights. But white light is a mix of several colors – and a laser is never white. To solve this conundrum, the scientists resorted to a trick known in theory but not yet industrially implemented: they focused the light of a blue laser onto a special ceramic which converted part of it into yellow light. By mixing the yellow and blue light components, they succeeded in producing a focused dot of white light the diameter of which was not much larger than that of the original laser.

To realize this ingenious approach, the experts on Dr. Carsten Setzer’s team at OSRAM had to first realize several fundamental technical components of the laser light source. One of the components is a wafer-thin highly efficient ceramic fired at 2000°C and used for light conversion. All previously known so-called conversion materials were not able to withstand the intensive blue laser beam or became so hot that light conversion was no longer possible.

Moreover, the scientists developed and validated all processes and systems used to produce the light source pursuant to the demanding standards of the automotive industry.

The headlight designers on Christian Amann’s team integrated the bright white light source in the headlights of a BMWi8. They significantly improved driver visibility after dark in the hybrid introduced to the market in June 2014. Amann and his team also added a special safety system to the extremely bright high beams. The system ensures that the laser headlights automatically switch off in the event of an accident or technical malfunction – preventing the blue laser to which the human eye is especially sensitive.

Well over a year after launching the laser headlight in the BMW i8, BMU introduced the first large-series vehicle to use laser light in their new BMW 7 series models at the International Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt in September 2015. The range of the highly luminous laser headlight is 600 meters. It is designed to complement a conventional LED high beam that lights up the road to a distance of 300 meters. The no-dazzle high-beam assistant ensures that oncoming traffic and vehicles traveling in front of the car are shielded from the light cone and not blinded by the high beams. The technology has caused a sensation in the industry and has allowed OSRAM to safeguard numerous jobs in Germany. The company also has plans to expand production capacity significantly. The aim is to serve the up-and-coming market for white laser light in which strong growth is expected as of 2018.

The conscious decision to put a new technology on the market has paid off. OSRAM and BMW are the market leaders and with their pioneering work have opened up the market for other applications.

The right to nominate outstanding achievements for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis is incumbent on leading German institutions in science and industry as well as foundations.

The project „Laser light in cars – throwing light on a safer future " was nominated by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office / Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt.


Dr. rer. nat. Carsten Setzer

born in Stuttgart
A Levels
1988 – 1994
Degree in Physics, University of Karlsruhe
1994 – 1997
PhD in Physics, Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck Society, Berlin
1997 – 1999
R&D Engineer UV Lithography Lamps, OSRAM GmbH, Berlin
1999 – 2004
R&D Head of discharge lamps for digital projection, stage and studio lamps, OSRAM GmbH, Berlin
2004 – 2005
Section Manager UV and IR specialty lamps, OSRAM GmbH, Berlin
2005 – 2008
CEO OSRAM Taiwan Ldt., Taipeh
2008 – 2011
VP Product Lifecycle Management for Consumer Lighting, OSRAM GmbH, Munich
2011 – 2012
Global R&D Head of General Lighting, OSRAM GmbH, Munich
2012 – 2014
Vice President Strategic Marketing LED Light Engines & Controls, OSRAM GmbH, Munich
2014 – 2016
Vice President Multi Project Management Laser and LED modules for automotive lighting, OSRAM GmbH, Munich
since 2016
Vice President and General Manager Automotive Lamps, OSRAM GmbH, Munich


Dipl.-Ing. Christian Amann

Born in Fulda
Highscool Certificate, Schelztor Gymnasium Esslingen
1986 - 1987
Military Service
1987 – 1993
University Stuttgart, Studies Aerospace Engineering , Dipl. Ing.
1989 – 1991
Student Trainee at Festo AG &Co. KG, Esslingen
1992 – 1993
Diploma Student at Dornier, Immenstaad
1993 – 1995
Development Engineer for Systemsimulation passive Security, PARS GmbH, Alzenau
1995 – 1997
Manager Systemsimulation Passenger Savety , PARS GmbH, Alzenau
1998 – 2002
Teamleader Sideprotaction Systems, BMW AG Munich
2002 – 2005
Manager Simulation Cockpit & Interieur, BMW AG
2005 – 2008
Manager Systemintegration Interieur, BMW AG Munich
2008 – 2011
Head of Qualitymanagement Vehicle Body and Car Interior, BMW AG Munich
2011 until today
Head of Department Lighting, BMW AG Munich

Further functionings

Curator Fraunhofer IOF, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft e.V.
Youth Officer, GSC Dachau




Dr .rer. nat. Carsten Setzer
Marcel-Breuer-Straße 6
80807 München
Phone: + 49 (0) 89 / 62 13 38 98
Mobile: +49 (0) 171 / 55 42 173


Nadine Schian
Marcel-Breuer-Straße 6
80807 München, Deutschland
Phone: + 49 (0) 89 / 62 13 37 69
Mobile: + 49 (0) 151 / 12 17 79 94

Anja Seeberg
BMW Group
Knorrstraße 147
80937 München
Phone: + 49 (0) 89 / 38 24 46 08
Mobile: + 49 (0) 151 / 60 14 46 08
Fax: + 49 (0) 89 / 38 24 40 30

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