LEDs light up Toronto's CN Tower (photo by Amarpreet via Flickr)

Lighting brighter: why Toronto is a world-class hub for energy efficient lighting

Major 'smart sustainable lighting’ conference to spark more collaborations

Doing more with less is both the future of lighting and a trend that’s already flipped the switch in homes and businesses around the world, as 'smart sustainable' lighting like LEDs use less energy to shine brighter than ever before.

It's known as smart sustainable lighting and U of T News recently looked into how it's transforming cities, health, business and the environment. Now, the University of Toronto’s Smart Sustainable Lighting Network (SSLNet) is bringing together key players in the field for a dynamic conference connecting researchers, industry, entrepreneurs and more from August 18-20. (Read more about the conference)

“Smart sustainable lighting is important because energy-efficient products are the easiest and cheapest way to combat climate change, rising energy costs and increasing energy demand,” said Elyse Henderson, SSLNet's special initiatives coordinator.

Henderson says the conference is meant to catalyze Canada’s smart sustainable lighting interests around the future of LED devices, lead to even more innovation, and "take advantage of this growing industry to make Canada a key player."

Over the next few weeks, U of T News will build on our introduction to ‘smart sustainable lighting’ (SSL) by featuring just a few of the alumni turning SSL research into growing startups. 

Writer Brianna Goldberg learned more about U of T's role in the field from SSLNet founder, Venkat Venkataramanan. Venkataramanan is also founder of Lumentra, a U of T-nurtured startup focusing on improved thermal management in LEDs, and he serves as director of scientific operations at U of T’s physical sciences entrepreneurship hub, The Impact Centre.

What’s the most exciting ‘smart sustainable lighting’ research going on at U of T?
U of T researchers are at the forefront of solid state lighting technologies. Professor Zheng Hong Lu’s group at Materials Science & Engineering has set the world record efficiency in lighting devices under laboratory conditions and are developing next-generation devices such as flexible lighting. Professor Timothy Bender at Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, and Professor Cynthia Goh at Chemistry are developing novel materials for enriched lighting. Professor Olivier Trescases at Electrical & Computer Engineering is leading efforts on smart power supplies for LED lighting. My own research focuses on improving the colour quality of LED lighting and efficient thermal management in lighting, besides lighting metrology.

How does this research expertise end up affecting everyday life for consumers?
The Impact Centre’s lighting lab is the home of the Smart Sustainable Lighting Network. Through its collaborative research and development efforts, the lab has helped Canadian manufacturers create better lighting products for automotive, architectural, display, industrial automation, medical and mining lighting products. The Impact Centre’s SSLNet has helped establish Toronto as a major world-class hub at the forefront of energy efficient lighting.

What are some of the ways we might see this lighting research being championed by U of T entrepreneurs?
Professor Lu’s technologies for improving Organic Light Emitting Diodes are being commercialized by a U of T spin off, OTI Lumionics.  Another spin off, Lumentra Inc, is developing efficient thermal management methods for LED lighting. A group of former U of T students now manufacture and sell energy efficient, cost effective LED bulbs under the label of Nanoleaf

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