Alternative LED Lighting Combats Energy Crisis
Alternative lighting is emerging as a potent method to combat the energy crisis. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technologies could provide an innovative way to save energy and make wasteful lighting obsolete.
Cree LED Lighting is manufacturing such a technology in Durham, N.C. Cree focuses on the production of light-emitting diode lighting, power and communications devices, all of which are supported by advancements in silicon carbide semiconductor technology.
Silicon carbide chips are more durable and perform better than traditional silicon semiconductors. Cree discovered these properties of carbide chips while working with the University of Arkansas in 2001 on a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The company designed computer modeling methods to simulate silicon carbide semiconductors under extreme conditions. Cree then supported research on a 2007 NSF grant awarded to LT Technologies. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project develops microwave technology to rapidly process silicon carbide semiconductors.
Although Cree's work led to semiconductor applications for power and radio technology, Cree's most successful products to date are LED lights using the company's silicon carbide semiconductors.
If LED lights are widely adopted, the potential impact on national energy consumption could be enormous.
"On average, LED lighting can save up to 85 percent of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs, since most of the energy emitted from those lights is converted to heat instead of light," said Michelle Murray, director of communications at Cree. "For fluorescents, depending on whether you compare LED lighting to compact fluorescents or fluorescent tube lighting, LEDs can save between 20 and 50 percent of the energy used by those lighting sources."