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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Energy@Rensselaer: Moving Smarter LEDs From the Laboratory to the Marketplace

June 9, 2011

Energy@Rensselaer: Moving Smarter LEDs From the Laboratory to the Marketplace

Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC)

NSF-Funded Smart Lighting ERC at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engages Key Industrial Partners To Foster, Guide LED Innovations

Now in its third year, the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) has enlisted 21 key industrial partners to help guide the center’s leading-edge research programs and hasten the transition of important innovations from the lab bench to the marketplace.

The center is dedicated to developing new light-emitting diode (LED) technologies and applications for smarter, better-performing lighting devices and systems. Launched in 2008 and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, the ERC is led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“The rapidly growing industry membership in the Smart Lighting ERC is a testimony to the quality of the transformative research being conducted on future lighting systems by the ERC faculty and students,” said ERC Director Robert Karlicek. “It is also firm support for the ERC’s vision of smart lighting systems, which are poised to revolutionize lighting by creating immersive lighting systems that can sense their environment to provide new levels of energy efficiency, health and safety benefits, and enhanced workplace productivity.”

Among the center’s industrial partners are leading LED companies including Osram Sylvania and Taiwan-based Epistar.

“Riding on the backbone of energy-efficient improvements in materials and performance, the Smart Lighting ERC is providing a state-of-the-art center in which we from industry engage academia to prove concepts at platform levels, ahead of industry acceptance and uptake,” said Matthew Stough, director of engineering, materials and processes, and research coordinator at Osram Sylvania.

“Epistar is pleased to join the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center. Their work on transformative LED and lighting technology is of critical importance to the development of advanced solid state lighting systems, and we look forward to supporting those efforts as a member of the ERC,” said Steve Hong, director of research and development at Epistar.

While the promise of LEDs as a long-lived, energy-efficient heir to light bulbs is undeniable, the true promise of LED and solid-state lighting technology transcends illumination. LEDs offer the potential to control, manipulate, and use light in entirely new ways for a surprisingly diverse range of areas.

To realize the potential of solid-state lighting technology, the ERC team is working to create better LEDs, as well as new sensors and systems required to effectively to monitor and control these LEDs. More than 30 ERC faculty researchers at Rensselaer and partner universities are actively working toward this goal, along with dozens of student researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting industry engineers.

Along with Rensselaer, core ERC university partners are Boston University and the University of New Mexico. ERC university outreach partners are Howard University in Washington; Morgan State University in Baltimore; and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

The ERC’s many industry partners, ranging from major lighting companies to small startup firms, help guide strategic planning, spur innovation, and provide university students with first-hand experience in entrepreneurship as well as corporate research and development. This summer, four ERC graduate students have taken internships with ERC industrial partners, and two ERC students have started a new company based on ERC technology and will be supported this summer by a Boston-based venture capital firm.

For more information on the Smart Lighting ERC at Rensselaer, visit:

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161


Reeve Hamilton
Director of Media Relations and Communications

(518) 833-4277

For general inquiries:

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.