U.S. DOE Awards Grants for Six SBIR STTR Proposals for Advancing SSL Technology

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded grants for six Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)-Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposals focused on advancing solid-state lighting (SSL) technology. The new SBIR-STTR FY16 Phase I Release 1 awards will go towards examining the technological benefits and commercial feasibility of an innovative concept or technology that directly relates to the SSL program’s R&D Plan.

PhosphorTech of Kennesaw, Georgia USA, and its partners received funding for their proposed development of high-performance hybrid inorganic down-converting material systems for high-brightness LED applications. Intrinsic properties such as high scattering cross-sections and large emission bandwidth limit the performance of conventional bulk phosphors as down converters employed in high power SSL applications. PhosphorTech believes that new materials of a complete inorganic hybrid system will eventually be able to outperform bulk phosphors, nanocrystals, and conventional quantum dots. PhosphorTech asserts that such new materials will ultimately enable a new generation of SSL devices with high luminous efficacies, high color and thermal stability, and spectral efficiency closer to the theoretical maximum luminous efficacy of radiation due to their color-tunability and narrow bandwidths.

Lumisyn of Rochester, New York USA, has created a novel class of high-efficiency, nontoxic nanocrystals that overcome many longstanding issues with competing alternatives but require improvements before being commercialized. This project intends to develop a model of the factors that contribute to high efficiency under both ambient and adverse LED operating conditions, identify compositional factors that result in unwanted loss of nanocrystal efficiency, examine synthetic and compositional changes to further reduce the spectral width of the red-emitting nanocrystals, and modifying the synthetic process to reduce the batch-to-batch variability of the synthesized nanocrystals.

Vadient Optics of Eugene, Oregon USA, proposes to develop and demonstrate a method for efficiently fabricating complex and highly efficient light-extraction optics for a variety of SSL products. Vadient Optics recommends an approach that will allow inkjet-print fabrication of monolithic freeform three-dimensional gradient-index optical films that can be printed directly onto LED or OLED assemblies. According to the company’s proposal, this printable optical film will allow lamps quick and easy tailoring of luminaires for precise, spectrally specific radiant angular flux distributions for optimal light extraction efficiency in a wide range of lighting conditions. The company says that embedding variable concentrations of high- and low-optical-index nanoparticles with host polymer matrices can create stable optical inks that can achieve an index contrast of greater than 0.2.

OLEDWorks, LLC of Rochester, New York USA, proposes to use commercially available thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) materials to create very efficient and stable blue devices and incorporate them into tandem white OLEDs. The company says that such a design will help minimize the detrimental effects of existing blue stack geometries. Phase I goals include quantifying key photo-physical performance characteristics of TADF emitters and identifying suitable materials, leading to the development of practical commercial OLEDs with higher blue efficiencies resulting in improved overall efficacy. The company intends to perform accelerated lifetime testing and systematic analysis of degradation routes of the successful Phase I materials in subsequent phases. OLEDWorks says this testing will point to pathways of synthetic modification that will enable reduction of chemical instabilities. Ultimately the company hopes this research will result in further development and commercialization of OLED lighting products.

UbiQD, LLC of Los Alamos, New Mexico USA, plans to evaluate the commercial viability of CuInS2/ZnS quantum dots for down-conversion in SSL through the development of composites, which incorporate them. UbiQD says that I-III-VI material composed quantum dots such as CuInS2 offers a feasible alternative to typical semiconductor quantum-dot systems, because they have no known toxicity and are less expensive to produce. The company intends to use T quantitative evaluation and optimization of the proposed composite materials including photoluminescence and stability testing. During Phase I, the company will perform brightness evaluations and test compatibility with commercial silicones. Spectral tuning and line-width narrowing will be left to Phase II. Ultimately in subsequent phases, UbiQD plans to turn its focus from proof-of- concept to developing large-scale manufacturing methods for producing the composite in commercial volumes.

SC Solutions Inc. of Sunnyvale, California USA, intends to create an innovative temperature control technology for metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) reactors. SC Solution aims to improve both the throughput and performance of a manufactured LED by reducing the effects of unpredictable and variable LED colors. The company says that such unpredictable and variable LED colors result from the variability of the substrate temperature during the deposition process. SC Solutions believes that its proposed control technology will use new and efficient scalable algorithms to increase the computation power of real-time control. During Phase I the company hopes to demonstrate a control system that can take the MOCVD heat transfer process from an uncertain initial state to a target state while maintaining control parameters and keeping temperatures within a desired range.

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