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DOE partners with leading researchers from industry, academia, and national laboratories to accelerate advances in solid-state lighting (SSL). Since DOE began funding SSL research projects in 2000, a total of 316 patents have been applied for or awarded. 

Collaborative, cost-shared DOE R&D projects combine the technical resources of premier research institutions and national laboratories with the product development, manufacturing, and commercialization expertise of industry leaders. DOE invests in research projects that target the needed improvements in price, performance, and manufacturability to speed SSL technologies to market.

University of Michigan Researchers Are Developing a Roll-to-Roll Process for OLED Manufacturing

Drawing of roller mechanics and vacuum thermal evaporation chamber, and organic vapor phase deposition furnace and chamber, with control module.

Researchers at the University of Michigan are teaming up with OLED manufacturer Universal Display Corp. (UDC) to develop a low-cost roll-to-roll (R2R) process for the manufacturing of flexible OLED devices to be used in general illumination. Currently, white OLEDs—which are used for general illumination—are primarily batch-produced on relatively thick, brittle glass substrates, with limited throughput and at high cost. The R2R process being developed will produce, at high speed and reduced cost, a continuous output of encapsulated flexible, lightweight OLED lighting fixtures at a projected cost of <$10/klm. (September 2020) Learn more

QUANTIFYING OUTDOOR LIGHTING’S HEALTH IMPACTS IN A REAL-WORLD SETTING AT VIRGINIA TECH TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

A road at dusk, lined with streetlights.

Studies have shown a strong link between human light exposure and melatonin levels, which in turn impact sleep, alertness, and general health. With DOE funding, researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in a partnership with Thomas Jefferson University, have studied the effects of outdoor lighting on melatonin levels in realistic roadway environments. (September 2020) Learn more.

RESEARCHERS AT PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ARE IMPROVING OLED PERFORMANCE THROUGH SEMICONDUCTOR DILUTION

Simulation showing the highly filamentary nature of the electron (blue) and hole (green) current density in a bilayer OLED.

Although the conversion of electrical current to photons is very efficient in OLED lighting panels, extracting the light remains a major challenge. The basic problem arises from the high refractive index of the layers in which the photons are created. Most of the photons are reflected before they can escape into air, which has a much lower refractive index. With the help of DOE funding, researchers at Penn State University have developed an innovative way to reduce the refractive index of the emitting layers of OLEDs. (September 2020) Learn more.

LUMILEDS IS DEVELOPING A HIGH-LUMINANCE, HIGH-EFFICACY LED PLATFORM FOR DIRECTIONAL LIGHTING

Prototype high-luminance LEDs in dense array, with center LED lit up.

With the help of DOE funding, researchers at Lumileds are working to develop a high-luminance, high-efficacy LED platform for directional lighting applications. The platform will consist of a range of surface-emitting chip-scale packages based on a 1 mm2 die with minimal package size to facilitate packing in dense arrays. The project will demonstrate improved efficacy at both the LED level and the module level. (September 2020) Learn more.

EATON IS DEVELOPING AN ADDITIVELY MANUFACTURED LED LUMINAIRE

Thermal simulation of Eaton’s 3D-printed heat sink concept.

Eaton is developing a fully integrated approach to manufacturing LED luminaires, leveraging additive-manufacturing technology. Carried out in partnership with the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, the project is investigating additive-manufacturing approaches that will significantly reduce cost, eliminate manufacturing waste, and improve luminaire efficacy. Targets include a 50% reduction in materials usage, process steps, and first cost, while achieving an efficacy of 130 lm/W. So far, materials usage has been reduced by 50%, process steps by 30%, and process costs by 25%. (July 2020) Learn more.

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