Moving LEDs into the mainstream: ASSIST develops research, education, and industry ties

Sept. 29, 2004
The Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST) seeks to accelerate the adoption and market acceptance of energy-efficient LED technology for mainstream, general illumination.
29 September 2004

Although LEDs have been a great success in indicator applications such as traffic signals and exit signs, the technology has yet to make inroads into many general and specialty lighting applications and gain acceptance from designers, specifiers, and fixture manufacturers. Part of the problem is the lack of research and education; another is the lack of consistency within the industry. One group, however, is seeking to change all that.

Since 2002, the Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST) has initiated research, field demonstrations, industry collaborations, and education - all in an effort to speed the adoption and market acceptance of energy-efficient LED technology for mainstream, general illumination.

Aircraft lightsSponsored by the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a cadre of LED and lighting manufacturers, large-scale purchasers of lighting systems, and government entities, ASSIST has been pushing for better understanding and more widespread use of LED technology by the lighting community.

"Ultimately, we are seeking to reduce many of the hurdles that stand between LEDs and their broad acceptance by those in the lighting field," says Nadarajah Narendran, PhD, director of research at the LRC and head of its Solid-State Lighting program.

LED technology, says Narendran, is at a crossroads where it has gained heightened exposure as "the next big thing" in lighting and now must prove itself. Industry standards, professional education, and a greater understanding of technical issues, such as long-term performance and lumen maintenance of LED systems, will benefit the technology and strengthen its position in the lighting industry, he adds.

ASSIST has funneled money into a number of technical and demonstration studies, including the following:

  • color binning issues
  • color rendering
  • evaluations of LED aircraft reading lights
  • pilot demonstration in an assisted-living facility
  • ASSIST also has developed several educational guides for its members.

    Guidelines for LED operation, performance and measurement

    Industry collaboration has been a major activity and purpose for the alliance. Since late in 2003, ASSIST has fostered discussions between its members and others in the LED and lighting industries to recommend guidelines for LED operation, performance, and measurement. The first "ASSIST recommends", which is currently in development, defines LED life for general lighting and recommends methods for measuring performance to extrapolate life data.

    "The main goal of this first 'ASSIST recommends' is to help manufacturers present consistent and reliable performance information to end users of LED systems," Narendran says. The first set of guidelines is slated for distribution in late 2004 through the LRC Solid-State Lighting Web site and other outlets. Future guidelines are planned for white LED color tolerance and requirements for LED-based reflector lamps.

    In the long run, the group sees "ASSIST recommends" as the first phase of developing industry standards, a necessary step in the technology's evolution. "Without standards, many of the current misconceptions about LEDs will continue to circulate within the lighting applications community," says Narendran.

    ASSIST sponsors include:

    • Boeing
    • GELcore
    • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
    • Nichia America Corp
    • Osram Sylvania/Osram Opto Semiconductors
    • Philips Lighting