University of Florida researchers are on their way to discover a new type of LED lighting, having the advantages of both an incandescent light bulb (light quality) and a fluorescent one (very low consumption).
They have achieved a new record in efficiency of blue organic LEDs (OLEDs). Blue is essential to white light, but until now it has not been possible producing it efficiently. The new OLEDs are even much more efficient than compact fluorescents, and can produce a quality light similar to your incandescent bulb up there.
“The quality of the light is really the advantage,” said Franky So, a UF associate professor of materials science and engineering and the lead investigator on the project.
The main difference between a LED and an OLED is that OLEDs are built from organic semiconductors (such as those making up organic solar cells), while LEDs are built in silicon, an inorganic material. OLEDs have higher efficiency, better color saturation and a larger viewing angle. They’re already used in cell phones, cameras and PDAs. Sony introduced an OLED flat TV recently.
I remember a few years ago, when they were just discovered, an OLED display the size of a match box costed about $5 million, now they’re getting so cheap that we can use them instead of our light bulbs.
Franky So and his team achieved an efficiency of 50 lumens/watt (lumen = measure of the light brightness perceived by the human eye). Their goal is to achieve white light with an efficiency higher than 100 lumens/watt.
To create the white light, they combine many OLEDs of the three colours making up the white colour (red+green+blue). It’s a process similar to that of a cathodic ray TV set. They’re so small that the eye can’t see them individually from a distance, and each of those LEDs has an individual light – the result is a clear, pure white light. “The quality of the light generated can easily be tuned by using different color emitters” he said. “You can make it red, green, blue or white.”
I guess you may actually use those LED lights to display something, if they develop them with addressing capabilities (I don’t see why they couldn’t do that). So, in the future, along with high speed data transfers through ambiental light, you may also have various informations displayed on your light bulb, possibly ads that could be paying for your electricity bill – a new business idea arises.
If such a lighting source would be available tomorrow, would you buy it? If so, how much would you pay for it?
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It is great to hear of the continued development for our lighting needs. The range of lighting techniques and progress that ensures we are considering the reliance on energy consumption whilst maintaining our lighting needs, is fantastic.
There is research at Boston University about giving LED lighting a second function as a wireless hub for laptops. The idea is that with LED's one can flicker the light at some high frequency that humans can't percieve, and modulate a signal onto it. All we would see is the light.