By all accounts, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as the new, efficient source of lighting, making most consumers forget the short-lived reign of compact fluorescents, which replaced incandescents only a few years ago.
While LEDs, and their younger cousins organic LEDs (OLEDs), have come a long way in their journey to mainstream applications, there is still plenty of room to grow. Recognizing this potential, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently made a commitment to invest heavily in the pursuit of even greater innovation.
In October, the DOE announced the availability of $10 million in funding for research, development and manufacturing of solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies. The DOE is bullish on the potential of LEDs and OLEDs and feels these technologies have the potential to reduce lighting-energy use by 50 percent.
The DOE noted that advances in SSL technology yielded an estimated energy savings of $1.8 billion in 2013 alone and could help Americans save $26 billion a year by 2030.
The DOE also stated that LED technology is rated at about 150 lumens per watt today but could be reduced by another 75 percent to 250 lumens per watt. That is the target the agency is shooting for. To reach this mark, the DOE is making the $10 million available for projects from industry, academia and national labs. Funding is open to applications in three areas:
• Core technology research advances efficiency and performance of SSL and lowers costs.
• Product development improves commercially viable SSL materials, devices or systems.
• Manufacturing research leads to innovations and improvements that reduce the costs and improve the quality and consistency in the production process.