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Troy, N.Y. -  9/29/2005

Lighting Research Center Selected to Join FAA Centers of Excellence Program

Lighting Research Center will conduct lighting and LED technology research

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to join its "Centers of Excellence" program. The LRC will conduct lighting research as part of the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology, which focuses on airport structures, pavement materials, wildlife issues, anti-icing, and lighting. Specifically, the LRC will apply its expertise in the area of solid-state lighting and vision science to provide new lighting solutions that benefit the aviation industry.

The Centers of Excellence program creates partnerships between the FAA, world-class academic institutions, and their industry affiliates to coordinate research and development in areas of aviation technology that are critical to the agency's mission and long-term vision. The program selects academic institutions on a competitive basis for their capabilities in research, leadership, and education.

According to the FAA's Donald Gallagher, Visual Guidance Program Manager - Airport Safety Technology R&D Section, the LRC will be assisting the agency and its research divisions through synergistic activities that combine the LRC's expertise in lighting technologies, applications and human factors research.

Evaluating solid-state lighting and LEDs for airports and airfields
As part of the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT), the LRC will conduct studies to explore the potential performance and application of new light source technologies, primarily LEDs, in airport and airfield lighting. The LRC will look at how these new technologies can be applied to light runways, taxiways, approaches, and other areas of the airfield.

According to LRC Director of Research Nadarajah Narendran, Ph.D., who leads the LRC's Solid-State Lighting Program, the aviation industry can benefit significantly from solid-state lighting technologies, which hold promise for lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance.

For its first project with CEAT, the LRC will develop recommendations and metrics that consider the brightness perception of LED lighting on the airfield. "Performance standards for LED systems based on traditional lighting metrics, like luminance, are causing problems for viewers," said Dr. Narendran. As an example, he says a green LED approach light is typically perceived as much brighter and less comfortable to view than an incandescent green light of the same luminance. "A better metric is needed so that LED systems can be produced and used in the field without causing discomfort to pilots," he said.

The LRC will work with the FAA to conduct psychophysical studies that compare the brightness perception of colored and white LED lighting systems with incandescent lighting systems, which use filters to create colored light. According to John Bullough, Ph.D., a lighting scientist who leads vision and human factors research for transportation applications at the LRC, these results along with other research will be used to develop recommendations that the FAA can use in selecting LEDs for airfield lighting.

To learn more about the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) research taking place at the LRC, visit the LRC SSL Web site at

About the FAA Centers of Excellence
Legislation passed in 1990 allows the FAA to partner with universities and industry to conduct research and development toward improving aviation safety, environmental impact and efficiency, and airspace and airport planning and design. Eight Centers of Excellence have been established, dealing with computational modeling of aircraft structures, airport technology, operations research, airworthiness assurance, general aviation, aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation, advanced materials, and the airline cabin environment. For more information, visit

About the Center of Excellence for Airport Technology
The Center of Excellence for Airport Technology (CEAT) is a research center with its home in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. CEAT was founded in 1995 as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence focused on airport pavement issues, and has since broadened to include wildlife issues, anti-icing, and lighting. The mission of CEAT is to develop new scientific knowledge and technology for the development, maintenance and operation of airports by conducting research in cooperation with government, industry and the private sector, enriching the engineering community through technology transfer, serving a diverse student population through educational programs, and educating the public to appreciate its investment in airport infrastructure. For more information, visit

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.