US DOE funds nine new SSL research and development projects


The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding of nine new solid-state lighting (SSL) research and development projects in its "Solid-State Lighting Advanced Technology — 2016" program. The DOE has awarded participants $10.5 million in R&D funds while each participant is also committing funds bringing the total public-private investment to $13.5 million. Recipients include Cree (Durham, NC), Columbia University (New York, NY), GE Global Research (Niskayuna, NY), Iowa State University (Ames, IA), Lumenari (Lexington, KY), Lumileds (San Jose, CA), North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC), Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA), and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI).

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The new R&D programs will fall into two areas — core technology research and product development. The results could range from more efficient LEDs to luminaire designs with enhanced feature sets. And the funding includes work with OLEDs in addition to LEDs. The R&D projects are slated to run for 18 to 24 months.

Cree will receive nearly $1.5 million and will focus its work on an LED light engine and luminaire that combines high efficacy and spectral tuning capability. GE, meanwhile, will focus on a modular LED luminaire architecture via a $1.2 million dollar award. And Lumileds will get nearly $1.5 million to develop a high-efficacy LED for directional lighting applications.

There are two projects focused on down-converter or phosphor technology used to generate white light. Columbia University will receive just over $1 million to work on quantum dots with a narrow-band red emission that could lead to higher efficacy for warm-white LEDs with high CRI. And Lumenari will receive almost $1.5 million to study narrow-bandwidth red phosphors, again with the goal of better efficacy.

There are four projects in the OLED area, all at universities. Indeed, the DOE continues to fund OLED research despite the fact that the technology remains far more expensive than LED technology and a significant efficacy gap remains. For example, early last year the DOE funded several OLED projects as part of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. And later in March of 2015 there were additional OLED awards by the DOE.

In the latest round of funding, North Carolina State University will get just over a half million dollars to work on an OLED manufacturing process that could lower production costs and improve light extraction. Pennsylvania State University will get just over $1 million to study OLED panel reliability issues. Iowa State University will get $1.3 million to research disrupting the internal waveguiding in an OLED panel to improve light extraction and deliver high CRI. And the University of Michigan will receive just under $1 million to work on OLED light extraction through outcoupling.

The latest DOE awards are in much the same areas that the agency funded SSL R&D programs about one year back when nine companies received $8.2 million. The agency has repeatedly made the case that its funding of SSL research through various programs has accelerated the uptake of LEDs and OLEDs in lighting and led to significant energy savings in the US. Indeed, the agency just recently published its annual Solid-State Lighting R&D Plan that, among other things, documents some of the notable achievements in the lighting industry that are attributable to the DOE SSL program.

TypeInfo: Industry News

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