Baltimore Business Journal

Fluorescent overhead lighting — the kind that’s probably casting a weird glow on your desk right now — could be on its way to extinction.

Baltimore nanocrystal-maker Pixelligent Technologies is working on a new type of lighting that would be more energy efficient and cast a higher quality light. The work, a partnership with Rochester, N.Y.-based OLEDWorks, is backed by a $1.25 million grant from the federal Department of Energy. The DOE announced the grant Monday.

Most of us are familiar with LED lights — the ultra-bright and long-lasting alternative to traditional light bulbs.

OLED lights are similar in that they are also very bright and more energy efficient.

But while LED lights take the form of a bulb, OLED lights are sheets of glass that emit light when plugged in. They are designed for architectural use, not for households.

In Pixelligent’s project, layers of film inside the glass (including a layer of Pixelligent’s signature nanocrystals) make the glass become the light, said Pixelligent CEO Craig Bandes. OLED lights are so efficient they could last the lifetime of a building.

One problem: They’re really expensive. Like, thousands of dollars per light expensive.

Pixelligent and partner OLEDWorks want to make OLED lights cheaper so they are affordable to builders, costing maybe a few hundred dollars.

The two companies must also figure out how to make OLED light more efficient. In current models, a lot of light gets trapped. Pixelligent is working on ways to release more of the light being created.

Bandes expects this type of light to begin gaining traction in the commercial market by 2020.

By Sarah Gantz on September 22, 2014

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