First there was the incandescent light bulb, followed (following legislation and concerns about global warming) by Light Emitting Diodes. Now researchers in the US report they have been developing a new type of lighting that promises to replace current fluorescent bulbs. Details published in the journal Organic Electronics state that the new source is made from layers of plastic, resulting in the new bulbs being more efficient and providing a much better quality of flicker-free light. This news is very well received by Leicester electrician PB Ross.
Known as field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology, they’re made using three layers of light-emitting polymers which contain a small amount of nanomaterials which glow when electric current is passed through them. Those behind the development suggest the first units will be produced in 2013.
Dr David Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, is the inventor of the device. He believes the new plastic lighting produces a better quality of light than compact fluorescent bulbs, and that the new light source is twice as efficient.
“They have a bluish, harsh tint to them, ” he told BBC News, “it is not really accommodating to the human eye; people complain of headaches and the reason is the spectral content of that light doesn’t match the Sun – our device can match the solar spectrum perfectly. I’m saying we are brighter than one of these curlicue bulbs and I can give you any tint to that white light that you want.”
This is the latest attempt by designers and scientists to develop new light bulbs in recent years. Most recently Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have come to the fore and become much more widely used as a light source since they are bright and very efficient. There are also organic LEDs (OLEDs) which promise improved efficiency and better quality light than incandescent light bulbs. But Prof Carroll has reservations about OLED lights.
“They don’t last very long and they’re not very bright,” he said. “There’s a limit to how much brightness you can get out of them. If you run too much current through them they melt.
“What we’ve found is a way of creating light rather than heat. Our devices contain no mercury, they contain no caustic chemicals and they don’t break as they are not made of glass.”
Professor Carroll insists his new light bulb is cheap to manufacture and that he has generated interest from the electrical industry for manufacturing his design.