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Opt Express. 2008 Dec 22;16(26):21835-42.

Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting.

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  • 1Future Chips Constellation, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, New York 12180, USA.


The field of photonics starts with the efficient generation of light. The generation of efficient yet highly controllable light can indeed be accomplished with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are, in principle, capable of generating white light with a 20 times greater efficiency than conventional light bulbs. Deployed on a global scale to replace conventional sources, such solid-state light sources will result in enormous benefits that, over a period of 10 years, include (1) gigantic energy savings of 1.9 x 1020 joule, (2) a very substantial reduction in global-warming CO2 emissions, (3) a strong reduction in the emission of pollutants such as acid-rain-causing SO2, mercury (Hg), and uranium (U), and (4) financial savings exceeding a trillion (10(12)) US$. These benefits can be accomplished by the "replacement paradigm" in which conventional light sources are replaced by more energy efficient, more durable, and non-toxic light sources. However, it will be shown that solid-state light sources can go beyond the replacement paradigm, by providing new capabilities including the control of spectrum, color temperature, polarization, temporal modulation, and spatial emission pattern. We will show that such future, "smart" light sources, can harness the huge potential of LEDs by offering multi-dimensional controllability that will enhance the functionality and performance of light sources in a wide range of applications. These applications include optical microscopy, imaging, display technologies, communications, networking, and transportation systems.

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