Hybrid Fiber Optic LED Lighting

EPA Grant Number: SU835323
Title: Hybrid Fiber Optic LED Lighting
Investigators: Schneider, David R , Elliot, John , Hedge, Alan , Pollock, Cliff
Current Investigators: Schneider, David R , Blum, Jeremy , Brown, Josh , Chang, Flora , Choi, Jong Hoon , Ciecholewski, John , Elliot, John , Hedge, Alan , Hssaine, Camelia , Kliewe, Oliver , Minor, Kelton , Pollock, Cliff
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


To reduce dependence on inefficient electric lighting, we propose to design, build and test a hybrid fiber optic LED lighting system that conveys free sunlight deep into interior spaces during the day, while supplementing the natural sunlight with efficient solid-state lighting at night. The supplemental electric light will use LED’s with improved spectral coverage by using organic dyes and control systems to dynamically augment the exterior ambient conditions. We anticipate that this will produce optimal lighting conditions at all hours of the day.


The proposed lighting system draws expertise from Cornell’s Human Ecology and Engineering schools to bring to market a truly revolutionary product which we anticipate will minimize electricity consumption and improve the lives of building occupants by providing a light source optimized for human health and comfort. The lighting system will collect incident sunlight on building facades, transport the focused sunlight via flexible fiber optics, and re-release the diffused sunlight deep into interior spaces through a custom designed luminaire. During overcast weather and low natural light conditions, a control system will tune the integrated LED’s output color distribution and intensity to supplement the natural daylight conveyed through the fiber bundles. Upon completion, we will install and test the modular system at venues across Cornell’s campus in CUSD's Mobile Research Facility, and the DEA’s Light Laboratory. The modularity of the solution and our ability to demonstrate the concepts in multiple venues will facilitate the spread of ideas related to sustainable lighting design.

Expected Results:

Three factors determine a lighting product’s success: light quality, light quantity, and operating cost. Our team hopes to achieve market acceptance by excelling in all three areas. An improved color rendering index of the LED’s will aim to significantly enhance light quality. An improvement in the percent of light transmitted per meter of fiber optic cable will aim increase light quantity. By penetrating deeper into interior spaces where current toplighting and sidelighting concepts cannot reach, energy consumption due to electrical lighting, cooling, heating, and ventilation are likely to be reduced, thereby lowering operating costs and carbon emissions. We, the Cornell team, will perform controlled experiments in venue(s) throughout Cornell’s campus to quantify and validate our improvements as statistically significant.

Supplemental Keywords:

Active and passive daylighting, full spectrum lighting, energy efficiency, lighting controls

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report