DOE announces third round of SSL Manufacturing funding; core and product development funding on hold

The US DOE has announced a $7.1 million fund as part of the latest SSL Manufacturing R&D program, but congressional budget cuts have affected funding for new core-technology research and product development projects.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it has selected three projects for solid-state lighting (SSL) as part of its 3rd round of funding for SSL Manufacturing R&D. These two-year projects will focus on achieving significant cost reductions while maintaining quality by improving manufacturing equipment, processes and monitoring techniques.

Manufacturing R&D funding

Total DOE funding for the three projects is $7.1 million and leverages an additional $5 million in private-sector funding from the three awarded companies. Cree, based in Durham, NC, has been awarded one project, with the goal of developing an optimized LED fixture that can be readily integrated into buildings and outdoor applications using fewer raw materials. The project targets lower overall manufacturing cost without sacrificing illumination performance.

Another recipient, KLA Tencor based in Milpitas, CA, will seek to improve the color consistency of LEDs by developing a high-precision hot-testing tool that can be used during LED manufacturing. The final recipient, k-Space Associates of Dexter, MI, will build on the company’s existing optical monitoring methods to enable high-precision measurement of organic LED (OLED) layers. The tool, which measures layer thickness and composition, is designed to provide production-level control of OLED efficiency, color and lifetime.

This is the third round of DOE investments in SSL manufacturing projects. They are designed to create jobs, boost exports, and promote America's role as a global leader in energy efficiency. For more information on the selections, visit the DOE Selections webpage.

SSL core technology and product development on hold

Due to funding limitations in fiscal year 2012 (FY12), the DOE will not select or fund any projects in response to SSL Core Technology or SSL Product Development funding opportunity announcements. Although the DOE received numerous quality proposals for these projects, SSL program funding for FY12 is impacted by Congressional direction, which specifically targeted manufacturing R&D. Congress has also directed the DOE to use FY12 funds to fully fund the new multi-year projects, which further impacted the number of selections for FY12.

Last year at this time, the DOE awarded $7.9 million for core technology research and product development projects. At this time, it is postponing the release of new solicitations for these programs (which would normally be issued in summer 2012) until FY13, as it assesses available funding.

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