Success Story

Solid State Lighting

Sandia researchers Jerry Simmons (left to right), Jeff Tsao, and Mike Coltrin show LED devices at their lab in Sandia's Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies facility. Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

Since the turn of the century, scientists at Sandia National Laboratories have championed the innovative use of solid-state lighting (SSL) for a host of applications, revolutionizing the lighting industry and establishing the scientific basis for a radically new US energy economy. SSL – a type of lighting that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs or OLEDs) as a source of illumination – is expected to decrease electricity consumed by lighting by more than 50% and decrease total electricity consumption by 10% by 2025, helping the US save an estimated $35 billion a year and the entire world $120 billion annually.

As global thought leaders in the adoption of smart SSL to replace traditional lighting, Sandia’s team saw the vast potential of ultra-efficient LEDs. Altering the compounds of elements used to create LED microchips enabled Sandia’s scientists to produce various colors of light with greater efficiency, luminosity precision, and directional specificity than conventional incandescent or fluorescent lights. Sandia National Laboratories’ Energy Frontier Research Center is focused on SSL research with a goal of establishing the scientific foundation for a fundamentally new US energy economy. The work at the laboratory has generated over 20 patents in the area and had numerous collaborations, including Lumileds which formed as a joint venture between Philips Lighting and Agilent Technologies. Sandia’s partnership with Lumileds resulted in several collaborations, including joint efforts to drive down the cost of high-brightness LEDs by implementing process simulation tools and improving temperature measurement and control methods.

Overall, Sandia’s efforts in SSL have resulted in significant contributions to public good. The intangible benefits are numerous, most notably the significant energy savings. SSL has become a huge industry with substantial market penetration. The technology is expected to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in energy savings. Additionally, improvements in human productivity through smart lighting could potentially have an even bigger impact than the expected energy savings.

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