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RPI gets $18.5m for smart LED lighting

The massive Smart Lighting center looks set to receive up to $50m in its first ten years from government and industrial backers.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has won a strong commendation of its LED engineering expertise, in the form of an $18.5 million grant from the US National Science Foundation.

The money will go towards establishing the NSF s “Smart Lighting” engineering research center, which Rensselaer expects to receive up to $50 million over the next ten years.

$3.25 million of NSF s five year grant is committed to the first twelve months at the center, which started in September and is led by E. Fred Schubert.

Other contributions to the first year include $1 million from the center s 18 industrial partners, $700,000 from New York and $500,000 from RPI itself.

The industrial partnership agreements are still being finalized, and therefore the individual companies have not been named. However Schubert told compoundsemiconductor.net that they include LED chip makers, material providers, lighting companies and device manufacturers.

The center will boast around 5000 m2 of laboratory space, half of which is currently equipped, with apparatus yet to be installed in the other half. Beyond this, the funding will mainly be spent on funding research students.

The NSF says that the center “aims to create new solid-state lighting technologies to enable rapid biological imaging, novel modes of communication, efficient displays and illumination devices and safer transportation.”

Schubert more succinctly says that research will be split between materials, device technology and systems applications.

“The capabilities of Smart Lighting surpasses and transcends the abilities of conventional lighting,” he added. “With Smart Lighting we have absolute control over every aspect of the light, from polarization to temporal modulation and spectral composition.”

“We can custom tailor a light source for nearly any imaginable scientific or commercial application.”

The center will host 20 faculty researchers from RPI, 10 from Boston University and the University of New Mexico, plus students, postdoctoral researchers and visiting industrial engineers.

It will also partner with:
• Howard University, Washington;
• Morgan State University, Baltimore;
• Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Indiana;
• Chonbuk National University, Korea;
• National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan;
• Taiwan National University, Taiwan;
and Vilnius University, Lithuania.

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