Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Technology

DOE Shines $21M on Advanced Lighting Research 238

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bright-ideas dept.
coondoggie writes to mention that the US Department of Energy is planning to fork over close to $21 million for 13 projects promising to advance solid-state lighting research and development. "SSL lighting is an advanced technology that creates light with considerably less heat than incandescent and fluorescent lamps, allowing for increased energy efficiency. Unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, SSL uses a semi-conducting material to convert electricity directly into light, which maximizes the light's energy efficiency, the DOE said in a release. Solid-state lighting encompasses a variety of light-producing semi-conductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DOE Shines $21M on Advanced Lighting Research

Comments Filter:
  • SSL (Score:5, Funny)

    by homey of my owney (975234) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:22PM (#22410624)
    OK, so the light is encrypted?
  • One would think that the government would encourage energy saving by ensuring cities weren't shining so much light up at the sky where it hardly does any good. I mean, just see Mizon's Light Pollution [amazon.com] about not only how it has ruined astronomy, but how it's simply wasteful as well. But I imagine the energy lobby, who continues to fool the public into thinking that the more light street lamps produce the better, maintains its influence.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:26PM (#22410688)
      I thought about this the last time I was flying across the country at night. "Why am *I*, at almost six miles up, able to see all these street lights and parking lots and malls and houses? What a waste of energy."

      Seriously, we need to think about our light placement and usage.
      • by misleb (129952)

        Seriously, we need to think about our light placement and usage.


        Lit streets and parking lots are a matter of public safety. There's nothing wrong with it.
        • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @07:24PM (#22413112) Homepage
          It's more often more about the perception of safety than actual safety, at least when it comes to crime. Lights leave shadows where objects block them. When your night vision adjusts to the light, the shadows, and anything in them, get proportionally dimmer to you, making it harder to see someone "lurking in the shadows".

          There's a lot more we could do about night lighting. A hundred years ago, almost everyone lived in a Bortle scale 1 area. Now, almost nobody in the first world does, and even much of the third world has elevated Bortle limits. What percentage of Americans do you think have ever seen zodiacal light, gegenschein, shadows cast from Scorpius and Sagittarius, or had Jupiter and Venus affect their dark adaptation? It doesn't have to be this way. Some types of lights are subject to far less atmospheric scattering. Properly designed fixtures can eliminate most of the overhead glow and even give you more light for the areas you're trying to illuminate. And so on.
    • There is already a Dark Skies Initiative program in my area, and many areas, which makes light pollution a government regulated issue to begin with. It has little to do with energy policy so you can put away your "energy lobby" conspiracy theories.

      =Smidge=
    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:31PM (#22410764)
      There's even studies that show a lot of lighting does NOT deter crime. All it does is let the crook see what he's doing.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        No it doesn't; However, it only works to a point. You're giving attackers fewer places to hid.

        There are people that will commit the crime anyways and it does nothing to deter those peiople.

        Where I live, there are too many and they are too bright.

      • That's why crime goes up around a full moon and a clear night. You can see better outside. I've heard that from a lot of cops about full moon and crime and when I mentioned the extra light to see by at night, the light bulb went off over their head.
    • by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:35PM (#22410840) Homepage
      There are also studies linking light pollution to increases in breast cancer. On the face of it, might seem a little whacky, but basically the theory is, light at night causes decreased endogenous melatonin production (it doesn't take much light to cause a significant drop in melatonin production) Melatonin is a strong anti-oxidant that they theorize helps keep breast cancer in check. Anyway, that's the current theory to explain the studies.
    • An increased cost of energy after a certain usage point will fix this problem by itself, but it'd be too unpopular for any elected official to implement they way things currently are. Also, there's the issue that light bounces, so shine a light down and it'll still reflect back up. The only way to prevent that is to absorb it, which just transform it into heat waste (which is worse). Most lights that point up do so for a reason, such as guiding airplanes - I don't think you're suggesting that we do away wit
    • by dj245 (732906)
      Most electrical power companies are doing everything they can to reduce consumption. Many have efforts promoting CCFL's, notices encourageing people to turn off the lights, etc. Why? Because at the rate our electrical usage is increasing, the power companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand. Sure, they have more income, but building out generation infrastrcture isn't cheap or easy. There are many places in the US you can't build a power station anymore because of all the NIMBY people. Neve
  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:25PM (#22410676) Journal
    Do you use SSL lighting to illuminate an ATM machine that is connected to a VPN network?
    • by travisd (35242)
      Do they use the DHCP Protocol on that network?
      Can I take my car with the CVT Transmission to buy SSL Lighting?
    • Re:SSL lighting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by curunir (98273) * on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:39PM (#22411746) Homepage Journal
      There's actually a pretty good rationale for saying the last word of an acronym...it makes what you're saying unambiguous.

      For example, without those trailing words, you could have been talking about an encryption technology (Secure Sockets Layer) illuminating a network layer (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) connecting to a branch of the Vietnamese military (Vietnam People's Navy).

      Sure the last one is a bit of a stretch, but there are a ton of acronyms that get re-used that can end up being ambiguous. If I say SOA architecture or SOA authority, it's clear whether I'm using marketing-speak or whether I'm talking about configuring a DNS system (which itself, without the trailing "system" could have been referring to a computational fluid dynamics simulation).

      You can only really leave off the trailing word when there is either no other possible meaning for the acronym (e.g. SCUBA) or when the context in which you're speaking precludes any other meaning (context being both the people you're speaking with and the rest of what you're saying).
    • by msaavedra (29918)

      Do you use SSL lighting to illuminate an ATM machine that is connected to a VPN network?

      Of course. You have to be able to see well enough to enter your PIN number, right?

  • The last I heard there wasn't a very good "White" LED.

    Does anyone have a good lreference to the current sate-of-the-art?
    • Re:Color Issues?? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:53PM (#22411128) Journal
      There are no good white basketball players...

      Oh, sorry, I had a top secret flashback for a moment. White LEDs, iirc, are essentially fluorescent light sources which use the LED to stimulate emission in several bands based on the phosphors used. As such, they are still discrete (though not monochromatic) frequency lights and cannot creat and exact replica of incandescent (i.e. blackbody) radiation. I've not seen much on LED CRIs or color temps...most people are just so amazed that they produce "white" light that they don't seem to care. White LEDs, as a result of how they work, are only about 1/2 as efficient per watt as their more efficient monochromatic counterparts.
      • Re:Color Issues?? (Score:4, Informative)

        by MasterC (70492) <cmlburnett@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:41PM (#22411780) Homepage

        As such, they are still discrete frequency lights and cannot creat and exact replica of incandescent (i.e. blackbody) radiation.
        However, that is irrelevant due to the biology of our eyes. IOW, it doesn't matter if you see light of a violet frequency or, instead, a combination of red and blue (aka purple). Really, the LED needs to just mimic the spectral sensitivity [wikipedia.org] (570nm, 540nm, & 430nm) of our cone cells [wikipedia.org]. This means we don't need actual white light (frequencies ranging from red to violet) to have white light insofar as our eyes care.

        And, no, LEDs are not fluorescent. Fluorescent bulbs stimulate mercury to emit UV light. The UV light hits the phosphorus which makes it fluoresce and produce visible light. LEDs work by jumping electrons across a band gap and a photon is emitted when it jumps back down. The high efficiency comes into play because it doesn't take much more energy than that of the band gap to make an electron jump.
        • Re:Color Issues?? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by stdarg (456557) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:48PM (#22411872)
          Hmm... if you have trichromatic light of wavelengths 570nm, 540nm, and 430nm shining on an object that absorbs everything except 550nm, then the object will appear black won't it? Whereas if true white light were shining on it, it would reflect the 550nm wavelengths and our eye would interpret that as... yellow or something. Is that wrong?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Hmm... if you have trichromatic light of wavelengths 570nm, 540nm, and 430nm shining on an object that absorbs everything except 550nm, then the object will appear black won't it? Whereas if true white light were shining on it, it would reflect the 550nm wavelengths and our eye would interpret that as... yellow or something. Is that wrong?

            I believe you are correct.

            There has been some work on front-projection screens to produce material that reflects only the specific wavelengths that a (matched) projector produces. The goal being to use such a screen in a bright environment where it will absorb almost all of the visible spectrum, and thus appear black, except for the specific RGB wavelengths in the projected image. Thus greatly reducing the "washout" effect of using a projector in a brightly lit room.

            I think sony has a half-assed implemen

        • by sd.fhasldff (833645) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @06:19PM (#22412254)

          And, no, LEDs are not fluorescent. Fluorescent bulbs stimulate mercury to emit UV light. The UV light hits the phosphorus which makes it fluoresce and produce visible light. LEDs work by jumping electrons across a band gap and a photon is emitted when it jumps back down. The high efficiency comes into play because it doesn't take much more energy than that of the band gap to make an electron jump.

          *White* LEDs don't work that way. You might assume that white LEDs are simply three (or more) normal LEDs combined in a single package. While it is possible to make white LEDs this way, it's not the method usually used (for several reasons, including "color integrity").

          Instead, white LEDs are typically made by coating a BLUE indium-gallium-nitride (InGaN) LED with phosphorous. This is not all that different from a fluorescent bulb, which is what the GP postulated.

          Different color temperatures can be achieved by varying the phosphorous coverage. Lower coverage lets more blue through (cooler temperature), whereas higher coverage causes more blue to be absorbed and thus more of the phosphorous emission spectrum to be emitted. The dominant line in the most commonly used phosphorous for LEDs is around 580nm (yellow).

          It's also possible to get white LEDs that are made by coating a near ultra-violet LED with phosphorous (thus getting even closer to the fluorescent bulb of the GP).

          This might change in the future, with serious work being conducted in the field to improve on reliability, efficiency and color characteristics. To the best of my knowledge, however, none of the new methods (go search for yourself) are commercially available and as we all know, many things that seem promising in the lab never make it to market for any number of reasons.

          For reference, red diodes emit at ~ 630nm, blue diodes at 470nm, green at 530nm. The exact wavelength of the emitted light depends on the materials used in the LED, of course.

        • Those curves are pretty wide.

          Sure, in most in-home uses, LEDs are (once the manufacturing costs come down a bit more) going to be great; but I've got, for example, a friend who does lighting-design for plays and such; and she FLIPS OUT over LEDs because they do not interact properly for what she tries to do with color.

          But that, I think, is an edge case; she can keep using incandescents (although she'll need a bigger budget when production is scaled back.)

        • Color Issues. (Score:3, Informative)

          by JackHoffman (1033824)
          Wrong, all of it.

          The spectral composition of light sources is far from irrelevant. The only case where it doesn't matter is when you look directly at the light source (TV, computer monitor) or at a surface which reflects the spectrum of the light source evenly (e.g. a projection screen or a white wall.) In every other case, a spiky light source spectrum results in improper color perception. One red color (e.g. a flower) can modulate the spectrum in a completely different way from another red (e.g. a shirt),
    • by Erioll (229536)
      I don't know about state-of-the-art, but the Light up the World [lutw.org] foundation has been using high-efficiency white LEDs for a few years now in 3rd-world country lighting projects. Their website may have more info on exactly how their technology compares to what's "bleeding edge" current in this area. But regardless, White LEDs (WLEDs on their site) definitely exist and are in-use.
  • From the (Score:3, Funny)

    by Yetihehe (971185) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:30PM (#22410750)
    Solid State SSL Lighting, from the Department of redundancy department.
  • by kovo (1238844) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:31PM (#22410758)
    I believe the luminous efficacy (lumens per watt, light per power invested) of solid state lamps still lags that for incandescents or arc lamps. So, I don't thing the "maximizes the light's efficiency" thing in the article is really accurate. SSL is great for neat things like integration into building materials, though. Or making traffic lights with a low probability of burning out.
    • What rubbish (Score:5, Informative)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:44PM (#22410990)
      LEDs are far more efficient than incandescent. I have an LED/incandescent flashlight that lasts far longer in LED mode than incandescent mode but is not quite as bright. ie. Led brightness * LED time far greater than incandescent brightness * incandescent time.
    • by marcop (205587)
      Actually, the two biggest problem (and there are other problems out there) is heat management and cost. Incandescents and fluorescents radiate heat out of the luminare whereas LED's conduct most of the waste heat. The current Edison socket infrastructure are thermal insulators, so you either need large heat sinks or a completely new fixture. So if designers start changing fixtures then there is always the question of AC vs. DC powering of the fixture.
  • by Rog7 (182880) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:31PM (#22410778)
    Don't get me wrong, any amount they can put into this research is a good thing, but on the scale of things compared to funds they put elsewhere, it seems rather low to me. This is an area that needs significant changes soon, but unfortunately it looks like we're going to get incremental adoption of more fluorescents first.

    It's astonishing to me that the energy and environmental problems are so obvious, but so little effort is put into the solutions.
    • by Bombula (670389)
      I hope the 'dropinthebucket' tag refers to your point, rather than cynically suggesting that LEDs and other SSL technologies wouldn't make a massive difference in energy consumption worldwide. They would.
    • by Quadraginta (902985) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @05:06PM (#22411322)
      According to government data [doe.gov], only about 9% of the household electricity used in the United States is used for lighting. Most household electricity goes to refrigeration, water heating, air-conditioning, space heating, clothes drying, and so forth. That's why electricity usage spikes in the summer and in hot weather.

      For that matter, only about 20% of our entire energy usage is represented by electricity, the rest being direct use of thermal energy (i.e. burning stuff like oil and gas) in factories, home heating furnaces, and in cars, trucks and railroad engines.

      So overall the amount of our energy usage that goes to household lighting is 0.09 x 0.20 = about 2% of our total energy usage. If you manage to make lighting that is, say, 10 times more efficient than incandescent, then you will replace 2% with 0.2%, for a grand savings of 1.8%. Not impressive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flyingsquid (813711)
        So overall the amount of our energy usage that goes to household lighting is 0.09 x 0.20 = about 2% of our total energy usage. If you manage to make lighting that is, say, 10 times more efficient than incandescent, then you will replace 2% with 0.2%, for a grand savings of 1.8%. Not impressive.

        Not by itself, and for that matter, it's unlikely that any single energy-saving technology is going to make a significant difference. But what if we were able to get a 2% reduction in energy usage on 5 different fron

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Part of the problem is that the vast majority of people fall into 4 categories:

      Those that don't care.
      Luddites that use the environmental movement as an excuse to say that everyone should live a retro lifestyle.
      Those that are looking for control of other people.
      People that don't understand the issue at all, but think that being 'environmental' is cool. Even if their actions are worse than what was happening before.


      The number of people that understand the issue, want to solve the problem, and still
  • The Real Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:32PM (#22410796)
    The real questions are:

    Where do I buy them now?

    Do they fit into my regular sockets, including BR30 form factors?

    Will they give me at least as much focused light?

    How much do they cost?

    How long do they last?

    How much better than fluorescents?

    Are they dimmable?

    Are they protected against lightening strikes near by?

    What toxic materials do they contain?

    Will they let me adjust for the color balance I desire (a highly desirable feature)?

    Who is exploited in their manufacture, and which country is getting all my money from them?

    Going to a new lightening system is seldom as simple as unscrewing one and screwing in another. Many trade-offs exist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Where do I buy them now

      EarthLED Light Bulbs [thinkgeek.com] which are more efficient, last longer, use less energy, and are greener to produce than even CFLs (which are greener than incans).

      Do they fit...

      Yes!

      ... as much ... light?

      Yes! I own two (would own more but see price). etc. etc. Read the page, it answers your questions. They are dimmable, etc. etc.

      • by marcop (205587)
        These may put out as much light, but it seems as if the light would be concentrated. The link mentions as much light as a 100W bulb. Does this mean as much light in a 1 sq-ft area as a 100W bulb, or as many lumens as a 100W bulb but concentrated in a much narrower beam?
    • by EMeta (860558)
      Now you're a real /.er, not even reading the title. I salute you.

      This is an article about money being allocated for future research. Ergo, they're not making them yet and really don't know their capabilities, much less price.
    • by Ironsides (739422)
      What the heck is a BR30? Look at the link

      http://www.superbrightleds.com/edison.html [superbrightleds.com]
      • by afidel (530433)
        Those aren't all that great, their ~40W equivalent uses 8W, a decent CFL of similar lumens uses ~10W, so only a 20% savings. That's at a cost of $50 vs $1.50 (GE CFL's at your favorite warehouse store). Until they can get the price down and the max lumens up they can't compete, but I guess that's why the research is being funded. Of course I would prefer to bring the cost of manufacturing down, but perhaps the technology really isn't there yet.
    • I've always wanted to know the pollution concerns myself. Add to that:

      - The cost of manufacture and disposal of SSL fixtures vs incandescent bulbs, at the scale of production for incandescent bulbs.

      If we wind up with something that is more efficient in the socket, but three times as energy expensive cradle to grave, then watt's* the point?

      (* so sorry)
    • by rs79 (71822)
      It seems to me practical solid state lighting is 10 years off from whenever you ask and has been this way for almost 40 years.

      Here's the latest (albeit dismal) report from the field:

      http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plants/month.200801/msg00059.html [actwin.com]
  • I'm just happy to see the Department of Energy doing something other than nuclear stockpile maintenance.
  • Not so much research (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afidel (530433) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:38PM (#22410888)
    As production capacity and demand. If they really wanted to speed the adoption of LED lighting they would use that $21M to buy LED lights for government offices. Even better would be a law requiring the government use energy efficient lighting technology, that would provide for large orders and a guaranteed market which will lead the market to fill the need. It would have the benefit of reducing energy waste by the largest employer and landlord in the world.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ironsides (739422)
      They already use fluorescents, which are more efficient than any commercially available LED I have seen. Note the "commercially available" part.
  • Unsigned (Score:2, Funny)

    by kcbanner (929309) *
    What happens if I self sign my light SSL certificate, am I susceptible to a man-in-the-way-of-my-light attack?
    In other news, Alice and Bob figure out how to screw in a lightbulb.
    • am I susceptible to a man-in-the-way-of-my-light attack?

      Sound like you need one of these [scopestuff.com].
    • by Daimanta (1140543)
      Unforunately Alice and Bob are unable to screw in the lightbulb and call in the help of the technician, Eve.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      (Before you flame me for not being politically correct, my heritage is Irish and my hair was blonde as a kid)

      How many Irishmen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
      Three: one to hold the bulb and two to drink until the room spins.

      How many blondes does it take?
      Three, one to hold the bulb and two to turn the ladder... oh you heard that one already?

      How many women does it take to change a light bulb? None, they just ask a man to do it for them.

      How many psychaitrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one
  • Okay... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neowolf (173735)
    Seems like a good idea. Although like someone else- I'm amazed that the DOE actually cares about something like this...

    Right now- LED lighting is great for some applications, especially portable lighting, automotive/truck lighting, and small things like night/marker lights in the home. It is ridiculously expensive for home lighting, even when you consider the lifespan of the lamp assemblies. Then again- CFL lights used to cost 3-4x what they do now too, so maybe cheaper manufacturing processes can be develo
  • Money Well Spent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by organgtool (966989) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @04:49PM (#22411076)
    This is really something worth looking into. LED's are much more power efficient (which means they also give off less heat) and last much longer (need less replacing) than our current forms of lighting (incandescent, CCFL, etc). Car manufacturers such as Nissan are already starting to replace bulbs in their taillights with LED's. The only downsides I can see people complaining about are the fact that LED's are more directional than other forms of lighting and some may have issues with the shade of color they produce.

    Now if our government would start looking into algae to power vehicles it would show that they're really interested in finding alternate and more efficient ways of powering our everyday devices.
    • by corsec67 (627446)
      The main problem I have with the LEDs that car makers are using now in brake lights is that they FLICKER, at about 60Hz. That is especially annoying at night, where the contrast between the blinking light and the environment is much greater.

      Hint: the power in a car is DC, if you need to pulse the LED to get more brightness, please use something above 250Hz, preferably >1KHz.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      LED's are much more power efficient (which means they also give off less heat) and last much longer (need less replacing) than our current forms of lighting

      Except, of course, for the fact that they aren't...

      Fluorescent lights are significantly more efficient than LEDs.

      Now if our government would start looking into algae to power vehicles

      Yes, those DECADES and DECADES of research they've put into it clearly prove they hate the idea...

  • As far as solid-state lighting goes, I'll be impressed when they can create a cost-effective replacement for stagelights. I work with a variety of stagelights on a regular basis, the most common of which use 500-1000 watt halogen bulbs. If they can create a replacement that provides similar characteristics (dimming, lumens, color, etc) but use less power and generate less heat then I'll really be impressed.
    • by MrSteveSD (801820)
      That would be great. One of the main reasons that amateur films look so crappy (aside from the acting) is the poor lighting. It's the one thing that digital technology doesn't really help with. Maybe LED lighting will make it more practical to do some decent lighting for amateur films.
    • I can imagine a whole new category of stage lights.

      Imagine panels of pixels, with each pixel being a small, independent spotlight, steerable by software. Cover the front of the balcony, and the upper lighting balcony, with these panels. Then the software can steer the required amount of light (number of pixels) of the required color(s), to any point on the stage, for each independent scene in the show. Floods could be simulated by hundreds of parallel spots, or some of the individual sources could be w

  • The ultimate future of solid state lighting resides in a combination of two existing/developing technologies. The first is the LED, already in commercial production, which will continue to be refined with respect to spectral output. The second is a technology that is mostly still in the lab- visible spectrum photonic bandgap materials. Basically, these are kind of "perfect reflectors". By creating an LED in a photonic bandgap material, reabsorption of emitted photons would be eliminated, or at the very
  • Granted, it was not incredibly bright, but it did a good job of converting 110VAC to a nice greenish night light.
  • In winter, or if you live in a cold place, the heat produced by incandescents isn't wasted, it's neatly subtracted from your heating bill. :-)

How much net work could a network work, if a network could net work?

Working...