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The Solid-State Lighting Program at the LRC

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Solid-state lighting has the potential to revolutionize the lighting industry. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—traditionally used in signs, signals and displays—are rapidly evolving to provide light sources for general illumination. This technology holds promise for lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance.

The Lighting Research Center's Solid-State Lighting Program team conducts necessary research and educational programs to enhance this technology, overcome barriers, and help it to gain acceptance for general illumination purposes. The program's multidisciplinary staff focuses its efforts in the areas of:

Lighting systems and components research — studying component interactions and their effect on system performance

Human factors research — studying how people perceive and react to lighting conditions

Field demonstrations and market transformation activities — identifying ways to use LEDs in more types of applications, replacing less efficient light sources

Education — training professionals interested in LEDs and solid-state lighting through workshops and seminars

Industry collaboration — bringing together researchers, manufacturers, utilities, and government to facilitate broad adoption of LED technology

LRC Director of Research N. Narendran, Ph.D. leads this program, which has established the LRC as an objective, international resource for solid-state lighting.

Download the LRC Solid-State Lighting Program Brochure PDF

What is Solid-State Lighting?


Lighting applications that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), or light-emitting polymers are commonly referred to as solid-state lighting (SSL). Unlike incandescent or fluorescent lamps, which create light with filaments and gases encased in a glass bulb, solid-state lighting consists of semiconductors that convert electricity into light. LEDs have been around for nearly 50 years, but until a decade ago were used only in electronic devices as indicator lamps.

Technological developments in the last two decades have allowed LEDs to be used in signal devices, like traffic lights and exit signs, and in some limited illumination applications, such as flashlights. However, cutting-edge research now shows a bright future for solid-state lighting as the next generation of light sources for general illumination, from homes to commercial applications. The Lighting Research Center is working to make that happen.

Solid-state lighting promises to change the way we light the world, yet much work and research are still needed. The LRC is looking for answers to the challenges and opportunities offered by solid-state lighting. Visit the Key Research Accomplishments and Recent Projects pages for more information on the LRC's solid-state lighting projects.

Why Solid-State Lighting?

Solid-state lighting is increasingly used in a variety of lighting applications because it offers many benefits, including:

  • Long life — LEDs can provide 50,000 hours or more of life, which can reduce maintenance costs. In comparison, an incandescent light bulb lasts approximately 1,000 hours.

  • Energy savings — The best commercial white LED lighting systems provide three times the luminous efficacy (lumens per watt) of incandescent lighting. Colored LEDs are especially advantageous for colored lighting applications because filters are not needed.

  • Better quality light output — LEDs have minimum ultraviolet and infrared radiation.

  • Intrinsically safe — LED systems are low voltage and generally cool to the the touch.

  • Smaller, flexible light fixtures — The small size of LEDs makes them useful for lighting tight spaces and for creating unique applications.

  • Durable — LEDs have no filament to break and can withstand vibrations.

LED lighting systems have already proved to be very effective in indicator applications where brightness, visibility and long-life are important, such as in exit signs and traffic signals. New uses for LEDs in the general illumination market include small-area lighting, such as task and under-shelf fixtures, decorative lighting, pathway and step marking, indoor downlights, and outdoor parking lot and area lighting. As white LEDs become more efficacious, LEDs will be used in more general illumination applications, perhaps with entire walls and ceilings becoming the lighting system.

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