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7 February 2017

US DoE awards new SBIR and STTR phase I grants for SSL technology

The US Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science has awarded four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for projects targeting critical advances in solid-state lighting (SSL) technology. The SBIR-STTR program seeks to increase the participation of small businesses in federally sponsored innovative and novel R&D.

The five fiscal year 2017 Phase I Release 1 grants will explore the technical merit and commercial potential of different innovative concepts or technologies that are expected to contribute to achieving the price and performance goals described in the DOE's SSL R&D Plan.

The Phase I recipients working on SSL are:

  • Pixelligent Technologies LLC of Baltimore, MD - selected for its application of a unique three-dimensional gradient index layer to improve the light extraction of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) devices.
  • Lumisyn LLC of Rochester, NY - selected for its development of unique nanocrystal-based silicone films with high quantum efficiencies and low optical scattering losses.
  • OLEDWorks LLC of Rochester, NY - selected for its development of a novel substrate and encapsulation process that should significantly reduce the cost of OLED lighting.
  • SC Solutions Inc of Sunnyvale, CA - selected for developing an innovative control technology for improved within-wafer temperature uniformity in the metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) process used for manufacturing LEDs.
  • MicroLink Device Inc (Niles, IL), selected for improving the performance of phosphide-based red and amber LEDs by engineering the composition and combination of semiconductor materials.

Specifically, SC Solutions' SBIR project 'Radiation-Assisted MOCVD Heating for Improved Within-Wafer Temperature Uniformity in LED Manufacturing' seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of control technology for improved within-wafer temperature uniformity in MOCVD that is most commonly used to produce commercial multi-quantum-well (MQW) LEDs. The proposed control technology promises to substantially reduce the need for binning in LED manufacturing, which involves additional cost and complexity, including reduced wafer yield and less-than-ideal emission properties of phosphor-converted LEDs (pcLEDs). These challenges are believed to hinder more-widespread acceptance of LED products for energy-efficient building-illumination applications. SC Solutions will address this challenge by employing radiant heating from the top of the wafer with a heat flux profile shaped using a specially designed mask. The heater will be located beyond the susceptor edge within the MOCVD system. It will be controlled in conjunction with the susceptor heaters, using an integrated control architecture. The proposed approach is expected to reduce within-wafer non-uniformity by 90% or more.

MicroLink Devices' STTR project 'AlxIn1-xP LEDs with II-VI Cladding Layers for Efficient Red and Amber Emission' will involve teaming with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory to improve the performance of phosphide-based red and amber LEDs by engineering their composition and alloy combinations to overcome fundamental loss mechanisms that are known to limit performance. The approach builds on the team's long-standing efforts using similar materials to advance high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell technologies. The project's main objective is to improve the performance of red and amber LEDs by implementing an AlxIn1-xP-based active region in combination with an advantageous electron cladding layer based on a higher-bandgap II-VI semiconductor alloy. By demonstrating an innovative cross-cutting technology to design and fabricate high-efficiency, phosphide-based LEDs for eventual use in high-performance multi-LED SSL devices, this design approach is expected to mitigate both internal and external loss mechanisms in a significant way, increasing luminous efficacy in a stable and cost-effective manner. This is expected to be the most significant improvement in the efficiency of red and amber LEDs in decades, and should reduce market adoption risk by using existing device designs and manufacturing processes.

Tags: SSL LEDs

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