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Lighting up grad school

Student from Glens Falls working on LED project
2014-04-23T06:00:00Z Lighting up grad school Glens Falls Post-Star

Glens Falls native Jack Bulmer’s graduate school project aims to bring good things to LED lights.

Bulmer, of Glens Falls High School’s class of 2009, is now pursuing a doctorate at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. He is the chief technology officer for a team called Goodlight LLC that developed a process to improve the efficiency and reliability of LED lighting.

“We hope this will make them competitive with their traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting options,” Bulmer said.

The team won the Capital Region portion of the New York Business Plan Competition on April 3 and will compete on Friday for the statewide grand prize.

The Goodlight project was supported with a $50,000 investment by SUNY’s Technology Accelerated Fund. The fund provides seed money for ideas that go beyond pure research but are not ready for the mass market, according to team adviser F. (Shadi) Shahedipour-Sandvik, associate professor of nanoengineering.

The fund has invested more than $1 million since 2011, which has sparked an additional $1.2 million in public and private investment, according to the college.

Large LED lighting wafers have a large number of defects, according to Shahedipour-Sandvik. The team has developed a process to identify defects before the wafers are made into full LED lights — rather than afterward, which wastes a lot of material.

The team did not want to reveal how its technology works because it is in the process of obtaining a patent.

Shahedipour-Sandvik said the LED lighting companies are well-established, which is why it was essential to create a process that would not require the purchase of additional equipment. One of the other students in the team had the idea.

“We have kind of gotten to a point where we have a proof of concept,” Shahedipour-Sandvik said.

Students learn to work in teams throughout the process, according to Shahedipour-Sandvik.

“Part of their education is to become leaders and hopefully someday have their own labs and companies,” she said.

All team members pitched in to develop this technology, Bulmer said.

“Just to be able to compete against all these other students is a great opportunity, but also to hear all the other ideas is really something special,” he said.

Bulmer, 22, is concentrating in nanoengineering for his doctorate, but he is not sure what he plans to do for a career. He would like to continue working in a lab.

Bulmer’s main project is working with single photon detectors, which are the devices NASA uses to detect ultraviolet light coming from distant planets.

Bulmer said his interest in science was sparked by his high school physics teacher Ethan Hartenberg. He saw it as a natural extension of math, a subject that already interested him.

“Physics to me was just math that could be applied to real-life situations,” he said.

After graduating from high school, he majored in physics at Boston College. Toward the end of his junior year, he decided to apply for a summer internship at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and spent 10 weeks in Shahedipour-Sandvik’s lab.

Bulmer said he enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to return for graduate school.

“I think it’s a great place to get a great education, and to explore these opportunities you might not get anywhere else,” he said.

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