The National Academy of Engineering awarded UCSB materials, electrical and computer engineering professor Steven DenBaars membership into the prestigious group last week for his improvements to energy efficiency in solid-state lighting.

The organization recognized DenBaars for his development of gallium nitride-based lighting methods, which save a significant amount of energy. DenBaars, who also serves as co-director of the Solid-State Lighting and Energy Center on campus, has taught at UCSB since 1991 and is the 25th current faculty member to be inducted into the NAE.

DenBaars said his innovative work is poised to revolutionize the way Americans consume energy.

“My research has been involved with making more energy-efficient lighting,” DenBaars said. “At UCSB we have achieved a LED light bulb that is 10 times more efficient than your standard light bulb. This will save the U.S. consumer over $250 billion in energy costs over the next 15 years.”

The election process is strictly confidential and conducted by active NAE members, of which there are about 2,000, in conjunction with the NAE Council. According to DenBaars, the nomination was completely unexpected.

“It came as a surprise,” DenBaars said. “I’m very honored. It says the academy values my life’s research. Election to the NAE comes as recognition of a lifetime’s worth of accomplishments, and I’m most proud that achieved it before I reached 50 years old.”

UCSB Materials Department Chair Tresa Pollock said the award is one of the most distinguished accomplishments a researcher can attain.

“[DenBaars] is highly deserving of this honor, given all of his accomplishments in the area of solid-state lighting,” Pollock said. “By itself, the election is the highest professional honor that an engineer in industry or university can receive.”

As a member of the NAE, DenBaars will be invited to give lectures at other universities, fostering relationships that will advance research conducted at UCSB.