U.S. Department of Energy

    DOE to Invest Up to $20.6 Million in Solid-State Lighting

    February 12, 2008


    Photo of a square light fixture featuring an array of glowing white dots, hanging from a concrete ceiling.

    While solid-state lighting technologies such as LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are currently used mainly in niche applications, they are also being incorporated into fixtures. This LED fixture is installed in a municipal parking garage in Raleigh, North Carolina.
    Credit: Lighting Science Group Corporation

    DOE announced on February 12 that it will invest up to $20.6 million in 13 projects to research and develop solid-state lighting (SSL), which includes light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). When combined with industry contributions, the funding will total nearly $28 million. SSL is an energy-efficient lighting technology that produces significantly less heat than incandescent and fluorescent lights. LEDs have been used in a variety of applications, including brake lights, flashlights, and traffic signals, while OLEDs are commonly used for displays in electronic devices such as cell phones, but both technologies have great potential for energy-efficient general lighting applications.

    The selected projects were chosen from three of DOE's funding opportunity announcements, with $10.8 million allotted for core technology research and $17.1 million allotted for product development projects. Four projects will focus on OLEDs, and the remainder will involve LEDs. The projects span a wide range of research and development efforts, from understanding the fundamental factors that affect the performance of SSL devices, to developing new substrates to build the devices upon and new phosphors for SSL lamps, to building SSL lamps and incorporating them into complete lighting devices. See the DOE press release and the SSL Web site.

    DOE has also published the results of its fourth round of SSL product tests, which examined 15 SSL lamps and lighting devices, with five halogen and fluorescent lamps included for comparison. The results found that SSL manufacturers still have far to go, with about half of the products performing only at the efficiency of halogen lamps, even though the technology is now able to achieve much higher efficiencies. And of the 15 SSL products, four manufacturers provided no information on light output or efficiency, one provided accurate information, one understated the product performance, and nine overstated the product performance. Overall, about half of the products produced too little light or off-color light for the intended application. The report concludes that the SSL technology is now capable of delivering highly efficient, color-balanced light for a wide variety of applications, but its implementation is hampered by manufacturers' inexperience with the technology and by the lack of industry standardization for LED device performance testing and reporting. See the results of all four rounds of testing on the DOE SSL Web site.