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Dr. Robin Macaluso, University of Northern Colorado – LED Lighting and Energy

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Robin Macaluso of the University of Northern Colorado turns us on to the energy-saving benefits of LED lighting. 

Robin Macaluso is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. Her research interests include the synthesis and characterization of magnetically interesting materials and X-ray and neutron diffraction. She holds a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

About Dr. Macaluso

Dr. Robin Macaluso – LED Lighting and Energy

Light is a fundamental and natural resource that most of us probably take for granted. We depend on daylight with each sunrise. But most of us also rely on artificial light when we switch on a lamp to read at night or the incandescent lights in our offices. Just turning on light switches accounts for 10% of the energy use in the U.S.!

Light-emitting diodes, commonly known as LED’s, have the potential to cut domestic light energy use in half. We have already integrated some LED’s into society – just look at the holiday lights in the stores now or at modern flashlights. Newer street lights, traffic signals and even some newer light bulbs are LED’s.

So how do LED’s differ from conventional light sources? Perhaps the most distinguishing feature is that they typically produce monochromatic light– that is, light of one color, such as red, yellow or green. A second defining feature of LED’s is that they produce light in one direction, rather than diffuse light. This inherent advantage means that LED light does not get lost within the light fixture or to some other direction. LED’s also tend to last a long time, even in cold weather and turn on instantly. They don’t have a “warm-up period.” So it’s easy to see how LED’s would be great for use in street lights, undercabinet lighting or even as a reading light.

So what are the problems that researchers around the world are tackling? A couple of things they study are packaging materials around the LEDand techniques such as phosphor coating  to produce white lightto make LED lighting feasible for widespread use. In my research, we are interested in exploring new materials that have the potential to produce colored light. More specifically, we are focusing on certain mineral structures where we can make minor tweaks to their chemical structure. By synthesizing new materials and measuring their physical properties, we hope to contribute novel LED sources for a brighter future.

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