17 Projects Shaping the Future of LED Lights

By Adam Hadhazy in Popular Mechanics, January 27 2010

This article discusses how the U.S. Department of Energy is investing in advancing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and reviews barriers preventing widescale adoption as well as the potential for improvements.

Over the next decade, the familiar use to light our world, from incandescent light bulbs to overhead fluorescent tubes, may go the way of the oil lamp.

At least that's the future envisioned by the Department of Energy (DOE). The agency announced $37 million in grants earlier this month in its sixth round of funding for solid-state lighting. The cash will go toward basic research, product development and manufacturing of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and carbon-containing organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

Together, these light sources offer huge advantages over conventional lighting. "[LEDs and OLEDs] can be more efficient than any light source available," says Jim Brodrick, lighting program manager for the DOE's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Compared to incandescent bulbs, solid-state lighting can be 10 times as energy-efficient and last hundreds of times longer. And LEDs can already easily triple the 10,000 hours or so of lifetime for compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are in today's lighting vanguard. Meanwhile, extending the life of OLEDs is a hot area of study that the DOE's grants will intensify.

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