18 January 2010


DOE selects SSL Core Technology, Product Development, and Manufacturing projects for $37.8m funding

On behalf of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, US energy secretary Steven Chu has announced the competitive selection of 17 projects as part of the DOE’s solid-state lighting (SSL) R&D program, which covers both LEDs and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, awards totaling about $37.8m will be supplemented by nearly $28.5m in private industry cost share, making $66.3m in total. 

The awards are in response to solid-state lighting (SSL) funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) — announced last June — for Core Technology, Product Development, and US Manufacturing.

This is the sixth round of DOE SSL funding for both Core Technology and Product Development — covered under the Exceptional Circumstances Determination issued by DOE in June 2004 — and the first time that DOE has funded US solid-state lighting Manufacturing projects. This expanded focus is part of a new DOE initiative to accelerate the adoption of SSL technology through manufacturing improvements that reduce costs and improve quality. These efforts are also intended to play a key role in developing, establishing and/or maintaining the SSL technology and manufacturing base within the USA.

“These solid-state lighting projects will help us significantly cut our energy use, reduce our carbon footprint, and save money,” says Chu.  “This funding will also support the US as a global leader in this rapidly evolving industry, creating high-tech, value-added jobs,” he adds. The DOE’s goal is, by 2025, to develop solid-state lighting technologies that, compared with conventional lighting (e.g. incandescent bulbs), are much more energy efficient, longer lasting, and cost-competitive by targeting a product system efficiency of 50% with lighting that accurately reproduces the sunlight spectrum.

Funding for the three program areas, as well as project titles and awardees (for LEDs, in addition to OLEDs) include the following:

Core Technology Research ($4m): three projects focus on advancing the technical knowledge base of SSL for general lighting purposes, targeting improved efficiency and performance with reduced costs (all critical to the widespread deployment of solid-state lighting). Performers of cooperative agreements will provide an average cost-share of 23% of the total project value of $5.2m.

Product Development ($10.3m): six projects support the development or improvement of commercially viable SSL source, component, or integrated luminaire products (materials, devices, or systems), promoting the market introduction of viable SSL products. Technical activities are focused on a targeted market application with fully defined price, efficacy, and other performance parameters necessary for success of the proposed product. Performers will provide an average cost-share of of 23% of the total project value of $13.4m. Awardees and projects include:

  • Cree Inc of Durham, NC — ‘Ultra-Compact High-Efficiency Luminaire for General Illumination’ will involve synergetic LED component, optic, thermal management, and driver developments to create an 80lm/W luminaire that emits at a color temperature of 3000K with a color rendering index (CRI) of 90. This integrated approach aims to establish a technology platform capable of providing high-efficiency LED components that can be adopted across a variety of SSL applications.
  • Philips Lumileds Lighting Company LLC of San Jose, CA — ‘130lm/W, 1000lm Warm-White LED for Illumination’ targets a CCT of 2700–3500K and a CRI of more than 80 from a 2mm x2mm InGaN die with a warm-white phosphor Lumiramic plate in a solder-free lead-frame package.

US SSL Manufacturing ($23.5m): eight projects focus on achieving significant cost reductions and enhanced quality by improving manufacturing equipment, processes, or monitoring technique (addressing the technical challenges that must be overcome before prices fall to a level where solid-state lighting will be competitive with existing lighting on a first-cost basis). Performers will provide an average cost-share of 51% of the total project value of $47.7m. Awardees and projects include:

  • Applied Materials Inc of Santa Clara, CA — ($4m) ‘Advanced Epi Tools for Gallium Nitride LED Devices’ aims to develop a multi-chamber system for metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) and hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE), which has the potential to decrease operating costs, increase efficiency of LEDs, and improve binning yields. The approach builds upon the firm’s Centura platform (which is used for growing low-cost, high-quality epitaxial wafers for silicon-based integrated circuits).
  • Veeco Instruments of Somerset, NJ (with team members Sandia National Laboratories and Philips Lumileds) — ($4m) ‘Implementation of Process-Simulation Tools and Temperature-Control Methods for High-Yield MOCVD Growth’ aims to develop a complementary set of high-resolution short-wavelength and infrared in-situ monitoring tools for accurate substrate temperature measurement and growth rate monitoring (to be tested in LED processing by Lumileds, expecting a 100% improvement in wavelength yield and a 75% cost reduction for LED epitaxy).
  • Philips Lumileds — ($1.9m) ‘Low-Cost Illumination-Grade LEDs’ aims to realize a 30% yield improvement and 60% reduction in epitaxy manufacturing costs for high-power LEDs through implementing GaN-on-Si epitaxial processes on 150mm substrates (rather than industry-standard sapphire), using the firm's proven thin-film flip-chip capabilities with its LUXEON Rebel lamp.
  • KLA-Tencor Corp of Milpitas, CA, with team member Philips Lumileds — ($3.5m) ‘Automated Yield Management and Defect Source Analysis Inspection Tooling and Software for LED Manufacturing’ aims to improve product yield for high-brightness LEDs by developing an automated optical defect detection and classification system that identifies and distinguishes harmful defects from benign defects (allowing for traceability in defect origin, and including hardware and correlated software package development).
  • GE Lumination of Valley View, OH ($772,000) ‘Development of Advanced Manufacturing Methods for Warm-White LEDs for General Lighting’ aims to develop precise and efficient manufacturing techniques for the firm’s ‘remote phosphor’ platform of Vio warm-white LED products (driving significant materials, labor and capital productivity to achieve about 53% reduction in overall cost, while minimizing color variation).
  • Ultratech Inc of San Jose, CA (with team member SemiLEDs) — ($1.3m) ‘A Low-Cost Lithography Tool for High-Brightness LED Manufacturing’ aims to modify and optimize a projection stepper process for LED manufacturing to allow higher throughput, greater yields, lower initial capital cost, and lower cost of ownership (able to accommodate various wafer sizes and thicknesses and to handle the typical wafer warpage of larger-diameter substrates).

Full details of the award contracts are to be finalized in negotiations between the DOE and each grantee. 

See related item:

DOE selects projects for Round 5 SSL Core Technology and Product Development funding

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