In the quest for a more energy-efficient future, no detail gets overlooked. As part of the Obama administration’s strategy for increasing efficiency and reducing the cost of energy in America, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a significant investment in the processes that manufacture solid-state lighting technologies (SSL).

According to the DOE, SSLs, which include light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDS), are about 10 times more energy-efficient than conventional incandescent lighting and can last up to 25 times longer. Because of these qualities, SSLs are emerging as one of the prime candidates to help lead the lighting industry as it joins forces with renewables, hybrid vehicles and other industries in the collective charge toward a more self--sufficient and green-energy society.

Taking the concept of efficiency one step further, the DOE funding is not a generic investment in SSL technologies. It is a targeted investment going to three innovative projects that aim to lower the cost of SSL manufacturing. The projects were chosen because they focus on significantly reducing manufacturing costs and improving the quality and performance of SSL technologies. Furthermore, the $7 million investment from the DOE will leverage an additional $5 million investment from the private sector.

The projects that were chosen include the development of an optimized, cost-competitive LED fixture design that can be readily integrated into buildings and applications and uses fewer raw materials. It is being developed by Cree Inc. of Durham, N.C. The second project, by KLA-Tencor of Milpitas, Calif., aims to develop a measurement tool that will help reduce variation in LED production quality. Lastly, funding is going to a project by k-Space Associates of Dexter, Mich., that plans to create a more efficient manufacturing process by building on existing optical monitoring technology to enable high-precision measurements of OLED layers during mass production.