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NSF Center Advances “Smart Lighting”

Future Chips Constellation

NSF Center Advances “Smart Lighting”

On Oct. 6, Rensselaer announced a new research center funded by a five-year, $18.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Called the Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Smart Lighting, the center aims to supplant the common light bulb with next-generation lighting devices that are smarter, greener, and ripe for innovation.

Funded by the NSF, industry, and New York state, and led by Rensselaer with partners Boston University and the University of New Mexico, the Smart Lighting Center will investigate and develop light-emitting diode (LED) technologies that could one day change the way we illuminate our world. Along with significant energy savings for lighting homes and offices, these technologies will open doors to a diverse spectrum of new applications impacting everything from biotechnology and transportation to computer networking and displays.

“Sustainability and energy efficiency are two key challenges of our time, yet they also present rich opportunities,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “With innovation, ingenuity, and a clear vision, the NSF-funded Smart Lighting ERC at Rensselaer will rewrite the rules for manipulating light and help introduce these new green technologies to the world.”

The new center will concentrate on three primary research thrusts, said E. Fred Schubert, Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of Future Chips, who leads the center. A multidisciplinary team will focus on developing novel materials, device technology, and systems applications to further the understanding and proliferation of smart lighting technologies.

Twenty faculty researchers from Rensselaer, along with 10 researchers from partners Boston University and the University of New Mexico, will staff the new center. Students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting industry engineers also will be regular contributors.

Along with broadening the knowledge base of smart lighting, Schubert expects the center to be a hub for commercializing related technology, where students and academic researchers work side-by-side with companies large and small to test, validate, and bring new products to the marketplace.

The project is expected to receive up to $50 million in funding over the next 10 years.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.