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DOE Announces Recipients of SBIR-STTR Phase I Grants for 2017

Krystal Maxwell — January 31, 2017

BulbsThe Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science recently awarded four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for innovation in solid-state lighting (SSL) technology. The grants are aimed at helping the lighting industry reach performance and cost goals, as specified in the DOE’s SSL R&D Plan. First published in 2015, the SSL R&D Plan combined the DOE’s previously published Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) and SSL Manufacturing Roadmap. The SSL R&D Plan provides direction and goals for LEDs and OLEDs through 2030, with the aim of increasing energy savings.

What Are the SBIR-STTR Programs?

The DOE is one of eleven federal agencies that offer SBIR-STTR programs enacted under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. The programs work to increase technology innovation to address specific scientific and engineering challenges. The DOE’s SBIR Program aims to stimulate technological innovation, use small businesses to help meet federal R&D needs, and increase the participation of groups traditionally less represented, such as women and the socially and economically underprivileged. The STTR Program focuses on stimulating scientific and technological innovation and to nurture technology cooperation between small businesses and research institutions.

The SBIR-STTR programs supply funding for Phase I and Phase II projects twice each fiscal year, and for-profit US businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply for the grants. Phase I recipients are awarded up to $150,000 for 6 months, and Phase II recipients are awarded funding based on Phase I results and generally do not exceed $1,000,000 for 2 years.

Grant Recipients

The FY2017 Phase I grants were awarded to Pixelligent Technology, Lumisyn, OLEDWorks, SC Solutions, and MicroLink Devices. The lone STTR grant, awarded to MicroLink Devices, is for a joint project between the company and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to improve the performance of phosphide-based red and amber LEDs. This project aims to improve adoption of red and amber LEDs by allowing for integration with existing device designs and manufacturing processes.

Two of the SBIR grants, awarded to Lumisyn and SC Solutions, focus on LEDs. Lumisyn is working to increase the performance of nanocrystal-based silicones; the project will focus on properties of blue LEDs to produce white light. SC Solutions is poised to work on new heating techniques in metal-organic chemical-vapor deposition. The technique will reduce the need for binning in LED manufacturing and decrease the technology’s cost.

The remaining two SBIR grants, awarded to Pixelligent Technology and OLEDWroks, are for OLED technology. Pixelligent’s grant project will focus on improving the light extraction of OLED products by integrating a high refractive index extraction layer in the OLED material stack. This layer will provide enhanced light output, increase efficacy, and extend the lifetime of the product. OLEDWorks will work to reduce manufacturing costs in the hopes of making OLEDs more attractive for general lighting applications through its grant project. Based on the success of these projects in Phase I, companies could be awarded additional funding for further work on their projects.

Incorporating the R&D efforts of private organizations to help meet federal goals, as the DOE does through the SBIR-STTR programs, can further the overall success of SSL and increase market adoption of these products. Navigant Research projects increased adoption of LED and OLED technologies, and grants such as these will assist with growing the market of SSL products within the lighting industry.

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