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Lumileds’ Craford recognized for contribution to LED lighting

17 May 2017

George Craford, Lumileds’ Solid State Lighting Fellow, awarded IEEE’s Edison Medal for disruptive developments that revolutionized lighting.

LED and solid state lighting pioneer Lumileds has announced that George Craford, the Lumileds Solid State Lighting Fellow, has been awarded the IEEE Edison Medal for his “lifetime of pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of visible LED materials and devices”.

He will be presented with the medal at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in San Francisco on May 25, 2017, during the IEEE Vision, Innovations, and Challenges summit.

Craford's career spans from the early days when LEDs were first developed to the production of high-brightness LEDs suitable for commercial use in a variety of applications, including LED bulbs. Even today, Craford is probably best known for his invention of the yellow LED in 1972.

Bright red, bright orange

Following that milestone, he then led the development of increasingly brighter red, orange and amber LEDs. In 1979, Craford began work at Hewlett-Packard, where his team pioneered the development of AlInGaP LEDs using metalorganic chemical vapor deposition. MOCVD was then a relatively expensive low-volume process and had not been utilized for the high volume commercial production of LEDs. AlInGaP LEDs increased the performance of red and yellow LEDs by more than 10 times.

Craford’s team continued to achieve technology breakthroughs in AlInGaP LEDs, eventually reaching 100 lm/W. “Not only was George responsible for substantial breakthroughs in technology, but with his team, ensured that the technology could be reliably and cost effectively manufactured,” said Mark Karol, 2017 IEEE Awards Board Chair.

The impact of Craford’s early work is today visible in the color LEDs now ubiquitous in applications such as traffic signals, emergency and automotive lighting. His later work focused on making white LED light cost effective for retail, office, architectural, outdoor and industrial lighting markets.

In the early 2000s, his team’s work enabled commercialization of the first high-power LEDs in the 10-20 lumen range. Such LEDs contributed to the creation of the first LED bulbs to meet the high efficiency and long lifecycle requirements to win the U.S. Department of Energy’s L Prize for a 60W-equivalent LED bulb.

“George has terrific instinct for what will work, but at the same time he’s got that practical engineering side that drives a solution until it produces the best results,” said Jy Bhardwaj, Chief Technology Officer of Lumileds.

Today, Craford is Lumileds Solid State Lighting Fellow at the company. He is also an IEEE Life Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has received numerous awards including the 2002 National Medal of Technology and the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Engineering Charles Stark Draper Prize.

About the IEEE Edison Medal

Notable previous winners of the IEEE Edison Medal from the photonics-related industries have included Isamu Akasaki, Federico Capasso, Tingye Li and Ed Hammer.

In 2011, Prof Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University’s High Tech Research Center, in Nagoya, Japan was recognized for his contributions to the development of nitride-based semiconductors and optoelectronic devices, including visible wavelength LEDs and lasers.”

Federico Capasso, VP of Physical Research at Bell Labs/Lucent, NJ, won it in 2004 for “a career of highly creative and influential contributions to heterostructure devices and materials.”

Ed Hammer of General Electric was the 2002 recipient for his developing energy-efficient fluorescent lighting systems. In 2009, Tingye Li of AT&T’s Communications Infrastructure Research Laboratory was the IEEE Edison Medal for his contribution to the field of broadband optical fiber communications.” The latter two recipients both passed away in 2012.

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