Solid-state lighting (SSL) is an emerging technology with the potential to surpass luminous efficacy limitations and to introduce new functionalities and designs in lighting. Based on semiconductor light-emitting diodes, SSL has made remarkable progress in the past decade to the point where it is now competitive with incandescent technology. There is much research and development worldwide aimed at making SSL competitive with fluorescent and HID technologies in the coming decade, with ultimate target efficiencies in the 25-50% range. These efficiencies have the potential to enable significant reduction in the rate of world energy consumption. A further benefit is that SSL does not contain toxic materials, whereas the mercury vapor contained in fluorescent lamps is increasingly causing concern to the point that used fluorescent lamps must be treated as hazardous waste in many areas.
There is, however, no fundamental physical reason why efficiencies beyond 50%, perhaps beyond 70%, could not be achieved, enabling an even larger reduction in the rate of world energy consumption. The work in this Energy Frontier Research Center aims to lay the scientific foundation for technologies for such “ultra-efficient” solid-state lighting.