The Department of Energy announced $9.8 million in matching grants to five companies to develop advanced manufacturing processes for LED and OLED lighting.
The new Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, had been in office 11 days when he announced the awards:
$2.3 million -- Cree Inc., Durham, N.C.
$2.4 million -- Eaton Corporation, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
$1.0 million -- OLEDWorks, LLC, Rochester, N.Y.
$1.8 million -- Philips Lumileds, San Jose, Calif.
$2.3 million -- PPG Industries, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Department of Energy (DoE) has been investing in solid state lighting programs since 2008 to help jumpstart the industry in the US. In 2011, the grants included investment in SSL manufacturing for the first time. The awards announced earlier this week are all for advanced manufacturing initiatives.
Each company will invest an amount equal to their DoE grant in their own program.
Cree Inc. will be developing a modular design for LED lights that can link together multiple units -- electrical, mechanical, and optical systems -- which are manufactured as a single, seamless product.
Eaton Corporation is developing a manufacturing process that streamlines the LED fixture design such that the LED chip can sit directly on the heat sink, improving heat transfer within the design.
OLEDWorks, LLC is working on spray printing equipment to reduce overall manufacturing costs. The aim is to give manufacturers greater spray control so as not to waste expensive organic materials and to maximize the visible light produced from this material.
Philips Lumileds (this site's sponsor) will be working on an improved process for producing InGan/GaN LEDs on a sapphire substrate. In the standard process, a flip-chip LED is grown face-down on the sapphire substrate. This substrate must later be carefully etched off the device to expose the light. In the process of being developed, the substrate will be etched beforehand so that it's not necessary to remove it.
PPG Industries, Inc. will develop a process for producing organic LEDs on standard-grade plate glass, rather than the high-quality (and high-cost) glass that is typically used. The various other necessary layers of the OLED are bound to the glass in the manufacturing process.
Not everyone agrees that government agencies are the best organizations to be picking winners and losers in technology markets. This market is arguably different, because widespread adoption of LED lighting will save so much energy that it amounts to a matter of energy independence, even national security. NIST and DoE have been studying, characterizing, standardizing, stimulating, and encouraging this technology and market for a number of years. It's my belief that government participation has been a net positive for LEDs. What do you think?
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting