DOE Offers $7 Million for Solid-State Lighting Research

June 6, 2006

Closeup photo of a white-light-emitting diode, a cylindrical translucent device with electronic components at the bottom and two wires protruding from the bottom. The top of the device is emitting white light.

Solid-state lighting sources such as this white-light LED could eventually replace light bulbs.
Credit: CREE Lighting

DOE has announced that it will provide $7 million for research in light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Five companies have been selected to develop LED and OLED products, including a white-light LED replacement for a 60-watt incandescent bulb that would be four times more efficient, producing 80 lumens of light per watt. Incandescent bulbs produce only about 20 lumens of light per watt. Another company is also aiming for the same efficiency level in a white-light LED, using multiple layers of thin films to build the device, while a third company is shooting for 96 lumens per watt from a white-light LED by using nanotechnology.

Both LEDs and OLEDs are made from semiconductors, and such solid-state devices have the potential to revolutionize the lighting industry with new high-efficiency and durable products. While LEDs are point sources of light, OLEDs normally take the form of large luminous sheets of material. Two of the DOE awardees are developing OLEDs, with one targeting 50 lumens per watt and the other trying to create a higher-efficiency, more standard lighting source by packing the OLED material into a cavity that will emit light from its opening. DOE funding recently led to a breakthrough for OLED devices, as a researcher from the University of Southern California (USC) used a fluorescent dye to build a white-light OLED that could be three times more efficient than incandescent light bulbs. See the DOE press release and the USC press release.

DOE's Solid State Lighting R&D (Research and Development) Program announced in mid-May that up to $3.75 million is available for research LEDs and OLEDs. The funds will go toward selected research projects relating to LED materials and optics and OLED materials and architectures. Proposals are due on June 27th. See the links to the funding announcements on the DOE Solid-State Lighting home page.

Meanwhile, a number of companies are claiming to have achieved commercial milestones in LEDs. The CAO Group, Inc. is offering a white-light LED that, according to the company, typically achieves 60 lumens per watt, while Permlight Products introduced last week a dimmable white-light LED fixture for recessed down lights, and the company claims it produces more than 40 lumens per watt. Adding to the competition is LED Lighting Fixtures, Inc., which announced on May 30th that it achieved 80 lumens per watt of warm white light with an LED fixture for recessed down lights. The company plans to start manufacturing its light fixtures by the end of the year. See the press releases from the CAO Group, Permlight Products, and LED Lighting Fixtures (PDF 133 KB). Download Adobe Reader.