DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) issued a solicitation in late February for research projects relating to light emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic LEDs (OLEDs). These so-called solid-state lighting sources could revolutionize the lighting industry by yielding long-lasting, efficient lights with features that today’s light bulbs could never achieve. DOE plans to spread $6 million among three projects that will be carried out over one to three years. Applications are due on April 15th. See the solicitation on the DOE “e-Center” Web site.
DOE’s Solid State Lighting program has already chalked up one success: GE Global Research announced in early March that it has broken two world records with a demonstration OLED device. OLEDs are thin sheets of plastic-like material that emit light when a voltage is applied to them, and GE has managed to build a two-foot-by-two-foot panel that emits 1,200 lumens of light with an efficiency of 15 lumens per watt, on par with an incandescent bulb. That makes it the biggest and most efficient OLED device yet. Under a three-year project funded by DOE and NETL, GE has increased the light output of its OLED by a factor of 600 while boosting efficiency by a factor of four. See the GE press release.
LEDs continued to find new applications in recent months, appearing in the taillights of several new automobiles, such as the Lexus LS 430. The white-light LEDs from Lumileds Lighting are being used as daytime running lights on the Audi A8 6.0, and the BMW 5 Series is using LEDs from Osram Opto Semiconductors for a heads-up instrument display. The 2005 Ford Mustang will even use an LED system from Delphi Technology to allow driver-selected custom color backlighting on its instrument panel. Meanwhile, Carmanah Technologies Inc. has been using its solar-powered LED lights to light up everything from the taxiways at the Truckee Tahoe Airport in California, to Coast Guard aid-to-navigation lights, to pedestrian crossings. See the press releases from Lexus, Lumileds, Osram, Delphi, and Carmanah.