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RPI Scientists Seek More Efficient LED Technology

RPI Scientists Seek More Efficient LED Technology

Taking on a technical challenge that could revolutionize the lighting industry and reduce global energy demand, a top research team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has garnered $1.8 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding to improve the energy efficiency of green light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The Rensselaer research team will attempt to at least double the power output of green LEDs, which could then potentially replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting replaced in general illumination applications.

“Making lighting more efficient is one of the biggest challenges we face,” says Dr. Christian Wetzel, an associate professor of physics at Rensselaer. “Substantial reductions in the nation’s dependence on primary energy imports will be possible once highly efficient solid-state light sources replace wasteful incandescent and fluorescent lighting.”

Wetzel is leading a team of scientists and engineers attempting to meet the aggressive performance benchmarks laid out by the Energy Department’s Solid-State Lighting Program. The program calls for the development by 2025 of advanced solid-state lighting technologies that are more energy efficient, longer lasting and more cost competitive than conventional lighting technologies. According to Wetzel, the leading technology to accomplish the Energy Department’s objective is a white-light unit made froma combination of high-performance red, blue and green LEDs. Researchers have achieved significant strides in moving the design of red and blue LEDs forward, but the technology behind green LEDs has lagged behind significantly, he says.

Wetzel explains that green light is a critical piece of the puzzle because it addresses the peak of the human eye’s sensitivity, providing balance to the red and blue lights.

Wetzel is working with co-principal investigator Dr. E. Fred Schubert, research associate Theeradetch Detchprohm and four Rensselaer graduate students: Yong Xia, Wei Zhao, Yufeng Li and Mingwei Zhu. The team is partnering with Kyma Technologies Inc. and Crystal IS Inc.

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