Goodbye, fluorescent light bulbs! See your office in a new light

Posted By News On December 3, 2012 - 5:30am
Goodbye, fluorescent light bulbs! See your office in a new light

Say goodbye to that annoying buzz created by overhead fluorescent light bulbs in your office. Scientists at Wake Forest University have developed a flicker-free, shatterproof alternative for large-scale lighting.

The lighting, based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (FIPEL) technology, also gives off soft, white light – not the yellowish glint from fluorescents or bluish tinge from LEDs.

"People often complain that fluorescent lights bother their eyes, and the hum from the fluorescent tubes irritates anyone sitting at a desk underneath them," said David Carroll, the scientist leading the development of this technology at Wake Forest. "The new lights we have created can cure both of those problems and more."

The team uses a nano-engineered polymer matrix to convert the charge into light. This allows the researchers to create an entirely new light bulb – overcoming one of the major barriers in using plastic lights in commercial buildings and homes. The research supporting the technology is described in a study appearing online in advance of publication in the peer-reviewed journal Organic Electronics.

The device is made of three layers of moldable white-emitting polymer blended with a small amount of nanomaterials that glow when stimulated to create bright and perfectly white light similar to the sunlight human eyes prefer. However, it can be made in any color and any shape – from 2x4-foot sheets to replace office lighting to a bulb with Edison sockets to fit household lamps and light fixtures.

Wake Forest University physics professor David Carroll works with graduate student Greg Smith on new FIPEL lighting technology.

(Photo Credit: Ken Bennett, Wake Forest University photographer)

This new lighting solution is at least twice as efficient as compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and on par with LEDs, but these bulbs won't shatter and contaminate a home like CFLs or emit a bluish light like LED counterparts.

"If you wanted blue lights, discos would still be popular. You want lights that have a spectral content that is appealing to us inside of a building," Carroll said. "You want a light that won't shatter and create a hazmat situation while your children are around."

Carroll's group is the first to make a large-scale FIPEL that can replace current office lighting and is based on natural white light. Beyond office and home lighting, Carroll sees potential uses for large display lighting, from store marquees to signs on buses and subway cars.

FIPELs also are long-lasting; Carroll has one that has worked for about a decade.

Wake Forest is working with a company to manufacture the technology and plans to have it ready for consumers as early as next year.

Carroll is the Director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University. Center scientists have developed innovative technology including highly efficient plastic solar cells; Power Felt, a fabric that can use body heat to charge small electronics; and a combination solar-thermal heat pump.

Um... really? Yellow, buzzing fluorescents and blue-tinted LEDs? It appears they haven't actually looked at these technologies for the last decade or so.

I can buy LEDs, even high-wattage ones pushing 120lm/W, off the shelf from Digikey in any color I want just about. Generally LED bulbs use much warmer-colored ones than blue.

As for fluorescents "buzzing"... that's from a magnetic ballast. All modern fluorescent bulbs use an electronic ballast. Generally people complain that fluorescents are too blue, but that's just due to their general ignorance about bulb color temperature. Fluorescents are available in a range of color options, many of which have an obvious orange/pink tint... not blue or yellow. The only lights that look yellow are HPS/LPS, since the Sodium emission line is strongly yellow.

As a final note: the sun is very blue, not "white". Black body radiators cannot truly be white.

Though, ironically, it appears that they're definitely making their new light very sun-like as they claim because the light he's holding in the picture looks very obviously blue like a 6500K T5.

Why so hostile toward this promising new lighting technology?

Guess you must be in the fluorescent lamp business. Your post is not helpful at all.

Someone disagrees with you? MUST BE A CORPORATE SHILL.

Oh wait, that's called an ad hominem argument.

My point is that this "promising" new technology actually isn't, and the article is chock full of lies and half-truths. This technology will go absolutely nowhere just like sulfur plasma lamps.

hey same guy that posted on redit you are right about CFCs but standard offices fluorescent s still buzz(mainly due to poor maintenance) and due slowly discolor yellow as they age(I don't mind that). the worst part is the flicker tho, yes they flicker above what we can see, but once again thats only when they are new.

this actually sounds a lot like OLED lights tho not as cool. I wish they would hurry up and figure out how to proplerly do roll to roll printing of OLEDSs

Standard office fluorescents DO NOT BUZZ.

Magnetic ballasts buzz. Modern fluorescents do not use magnetic ballasts, and haven't for over a decade.

If the best this technology can claim is that it's better than outdated, failing fluorescents with a half-dead ballast... I am severely unimpressed.

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