Rensselaer researchers reveal vision for lighting revolution

Dec. 23, 2008
December 23, 2008--Innovations in photonics and solid-state lighting will lead to trillions of dollars in cost savings, along with a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe--a lighting revolution--according to two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in their paper entitled "Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting," to be published in the Dec. 22, 2008 issue of Optics Express.

December 23, 2008--Innovations in photonics and solid-state lighting will lead to trillions of dollars in cost savings, along with a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe--a lighting revolution--according to two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in their paper entitled "Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting," to be published in the Dec. 22, 2008 issue of Optics Express.

A new generation of lighting devices based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will supplant the common light bulb in coming years, the paper suggests. In addition to the environmental and cost benefits of LEDs, the technology is expected to enable a wide range of advances in areas as diverse as healthcare, transportation systems, digital displays, and computer networking.

"What the transistor meant to the development of electronics, the LED means to the field of photonics. This core device has the potential to revolutionize how we use light," write co-authors E. Fred Schubert and Jong Kyu Kim. Researchers are able to control every aspect of light generated by LEDs, allowing the light sources to be tweaked and optimized for nearly any situation, Schubert and Kim said. In general LEDs will require 20 times less power than today's conventional light bulbs, and five times less power than "green" compact fluorescent bulbs.

With all of the promise and potential of LEDs, Schubert and Kim said it is important not to pigeonhole or dismiss smart lighting technology as a mere replacement for conventional light bulbs. The paper is a call to arms for scientists and engineers, and stresses that advances in photonics will position solid-state lighting as a catalyst for unexpected, currently unimaginable technological advances.

In October, Rensselaer announced its new Smart Lighting Research Center, in partnership with Boston University and the University of New Mexico, and funded by an $18.5 million, five-year award from the NSF Generation Three Engineering Research Center Program. The three primary research thrusts of the center are developing novel materials, device technology, and systems applications to further the understanding and proliferation of smart lighting technologies.

For more information on the Smart Lighting Center, visit smartlighting.rpi.edu.

--Posted by Gail Overton, [email protected].

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