Today, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announced the four winners in Phase 1 of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lighting Prize (L-Prize®) at the Building Technologies Office’s annual Solid-State Lighting Workshop. The L-Prize® is a $12.2 million prize lighting competition launched by DOE in May 2021. The L-Prize® is designed to spur groundbreaking innovation, domestic manufacturing, and the benefits of an inclusive, clean-energy economy for next-generation lighting solutions in commercial buildings.

Video Url
A video from the 2022 DOE Solid-State Lighting Workshop showing U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announcing the winners of the L-Prize competition Concept Phase.
U.S. Department of Energy

“The lightbulb is the universal symbol of a great idea and making lighting systems even better for people and the planet may be our brightest idea yet,” said Secretary Granholm. “Investing in next-generation lighting solutions is key to tackling the climate crisis, boosting American supply chains and manufacturing of these technologies, creating good-paying jobs, and Building Back Better.” 

The L-Prize® targets commercial sector lighting, which accounts for 37% of national lighting energy use, and encourages lighting innovators to design systems with breakthrough energy efficiency (25-50% above today’s products), quality, functionality, and sustainability. The category of equity and inclusion is another emphasis of the competition, as extra points are awarded for innovation in diversity, equity, and inclusion in how these lighting systems are designed, produced, and installed. A full realization of L-Prize®-winning technology envisions LED products manufactured with significant domestic materials, while demonstrating exceptional energy efficiency, data connectivity, seamless lighting control, and excellent visual quality, with all products designed for recycling and remanufacturing. The competition is organized into three phases. Today’s announcement recognizes the winners of Phase 1, the Concept Phase. 

The L-Prize® Concept Phase invited participation by nontraditional innovators such as students, individuals, and those outside the lighting industry as well as known manufacturers. The competition provided an opportunity in the Concept Phase for these participants to receive feedback on their proposed innovations from an Expert Review Panel made up of eight independent, external thought leaders from industry and academia. While the Concept Phase winners each receive a price of $20,000, all serious entrants are welcome to submit to any phase of the L-Prize.  

The L-Prize® Concept Phase winners are: 

  • Project Tango, submitted by QuarkStar of Las Vegas, Nevada. The networked, white-tunable luminaire concept leverages innovations in optics, LED, and power conversion technology to deliver high efficacy, exceptional quality of light, and precise control of light distribution.
  • Sustainable and Connected Troffer Retrofit, submitted by Orion Energy Systems of Jacksonville, Florida. The concept offers a high-efficacy, networked LED luminaire with advanced controls that can be retrofitted in less than two minutes to an existing fluorescent luminaire.
  • Laterally Symmetrical Level 3 Engine for 3D Printing, submitted by Smash the Bulb/Bridgelux of Mountain View, California. This 3D-printed semi-indirect luminaire concept uses a high-performance light engine that requires no secondary optics and delivers high efficacy and excellent quality of light; an innovative optical design that reduces losses and addresses glare; and a luminaire housing that can be 3D printed on the job site.
  • Papaya Modular Lighting Ecosystem, submitted by Papaya of Evanston, Illinois. This highly modular luminaire platform designed by a team from outside the lighting industry uses a unique community-based approach; an all open-source aspect offers opportunities for innovators of all types to participate in evolving and innovating this lighting solution over time. 

Looking ahead, the subsequent phases of the L-Prize® will present fresh opportunities for awards and recognition. All eligible entrants are welcome to participate in any of the L-Prize® phases and participation in one phase is not required to be eligible for another. Phase 2, the Prototype Phase, opens this year and calls for prototype lighting systems allowing hands-on evaluation for technical performance and innovation. Phase 3, the Manufacturing and Installation Phase, will reward U.S. manufacturing and installation of lighting systems that meet rigorous L-Prize® technical requirements. Participants are encouraged to form teams as necessary to turn great ideas into real products and installations. 

The first Lighting Prize was awarded by DOE in 2011 to recognize a high-efficiency LED replacement for the traditional 60-Watt A19 incandescent bulb. Just as the winning A-Lamp was a breakthrough and signaled a turning point in commercially available LED lighting, the current L-Prize® is seeking comparable impact from the next generation of lighting en route to decarbonizing the built environment.