Feezell earns grant from Department of Energy to develop novel lighting technology

September 20, 2016

Feezell earns grant from Department of Energy to develop novel lighting technology

Daniel Feezell, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of New Mexico, is leading a project funded by the Department of Energy that aims to improve lighting systems.

Feezell's project explores the use of superluminescent diodes to enhance the functionalities of LED smart lighting systems. Conducted in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, the project began in August 2016 and is projected to continue through August 2018. The project is funded by an Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant.

From the Abstract:
Investigation of Superluminescent Diodes for Smart Lighting Systems
The solid-state lighting ecosystem has evolved very rapidly over the last few years, with significant improvements in the technical performance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and the commoditization of LED-based lighting fixtures. There is growing market interest in “Lighting as a Service” applications that will leverage advanced systems to impart new functionalities to lighting and improve energy efficiency, human health, and productivity.
These “Smart Lighting” systems will include high-performance light sources, specialized sensors, and dynamic controls to deliver high quality, energy efficient, color tunable lighting with customized spatial light delivery and integrated visible light communication capability. To achieve these capabilities, smart lighting systems will place greater demands on the performance of light sources. Highly efficient sources with additional functionalities compared to conventional LEDs, such as small form factor, high speed operation, and spatially coherent output beams, will be required.

To address these issues, this project will investigate an alternative device architecture for smart lighting systems known as a superluminescent diode (SLD).  SLDs are similar in form to ridge laser diodes and share many of the same characteristics, such as stimulated emission operation, spatially coherent output, small form factor, and the potential for high-speed operation. However, the operating principle for SLDs is distinct from laser diodes in that SLDs lack a strong cavity feedback mechanism, resulting in spatially coherent but temporally incoherent light output. Thus, SLDs may address the issues with laser diodes for lighting, while simultaneously maintaining some of the desirable characteristics of both laser diodes and LEDs.

The objectives of this proposal are to design, grow, and fabricate blue (450 nm) SLDs on two different crystal orientations (polar c-plane and nonpolar m-plane) of free-standing GaN substrates, and to evaluate their potential as sources in smart lighting systems through basic device characterization and detailed investigations of their efficiency droop and modulation bandwidth.

UNM will collaborate with Sandia National Laboratories and the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies to design, fabricate, grow, and characterize the SLDs. UNM will perform the design and epitaxial growth, while SNL will focus on the fabrication and device characterization. These systems are expected to broadly impact energy efficiency, human health, and productivity.