Goodbye, fluorescent light bulbs: New lighting technology won't flicker, shatter or burn out

Dec 03, 2012
Wake Forest University physics professor David Carroll works with graduate student Greg Smith on new FIPEL lighting technology. Credit: Ken Bennett, Wake Forest University photographer

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 – 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 to convert the charge into light. This allows the researchers to create an entirely new – overcoming one of the major barriers in using plastic lights in 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 that glow when stimulated to create bright and perfectly white light similar to the sunlight 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.

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.

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VendicarD
Dec 03, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Che2000
2.8 / 5 (20) Dec 03, 2012
These filthy scientists are a threat to America's Light Bulb Freedom act.

If God wanted man to use Luciferian glowing devil sticks then he wouldn't have given the world the glory and beauty of the incandescent light. God's shining light.

Stop them while there is still freedom to be had.


Hahahahahahaha! Hilarious!
StarGazer2011
3.6 / 5 (17) Dec 03, 2012
Is it just me or has lighting become really complex all of a sudden?
Only dilemma now is do I fork out for LEDs to replace my CFLs or wait for FIPELs?
I for one welcome our FIPEL overlords!
Caliban
2.4 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
Again, all the sexy new tech sounds dreamy --but what about some basic operative information, like, for instance, power consumption?

This lighting could be the single most spectacular thing since the development of ice cream, but if it isn't efficient, then it goes nowhere.
the-big-eazy
4.6 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
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.

Read more at: http://phys.org/n...html#jCp
Caliban
5 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2012
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.


Thanks, big-e, I missed that sentence somehow during the first reading of the article.

Jayman
2.8 / 5 (6) Dec 03, 2012
Sounds too good to be true.
tscati
3.7 / 5 (10) Dec 03, 2012
Sound wonderful! How quickly do they get to full brightness when they're switched on? Slow warm-up is one of the big irritants with CFL, particularly as they get older.
antialias_physorg
4.9 / 5 (9) Dec 03, 2012
FIPELs also are long-lasting; Carroll has one that has worked for about a decade.

I'll wait a bit until they get some better statistics than a singular sample.
- MTBF (a decade isn't unique. CFLs and LEDs do that, too)
- does the light fade over time.
- fade in when turned on.
- ...
maxb500_live_nl
3.2 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
"bluish tinge from LEDs"

I don`t know what ridiculous LED quality they buy. But my Philips LED i got here give perfect white light exactly how i love it. And using half of the energy of the old CFL's. Shop around, try 1 or 2 and you will find your perfect LED light. Using half the power i save a lot of money each and every year. The LED's last much longer and no danger if it brakes. It also is on immediately on, not taking time to warm up like CFL.
dogbert
2 / 5 (8) Dec 03, 2012
How does the cost of construction compare with other lighting systems? How does the lighting compare environmentally with other lighting systems?

Sounds interesting, but more information would be welcome.
LuckyExplorer
3.5 / 5 (13) Dec 03, 2012
"... emit a bluish light like LED counterparts"

Does the author really know what he is talking about?

For some years now LED products, modules or LED replacement bulbs, are available in warm white with a light quality (CCT and CRI) that is very close to incandescent or halogen.

A CRI above 90 and up to 97 is nothing special.
Even very experienced lighting specialist cannot or just hardly recognize differences between the light of a halogen spot and such an LED spot.

The article tells nothing about CCT and CRI of this product.
If this is a really good product or if this is just advertising and garbage cannot be identifyed. What about costs?...

FIPEL might be fine. FIPEL might also be a welcome alternative, but the style of this article is not adequate for PhysOrg.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2012
A CRI above 90 and up to 97 is nothing special.


It is for a LED light.

All the high-CRI high-efficiency LED bulbs out there are LED-fluorescent hybrids where instead of a gas discharge, the blue LED is used to energize the fluorescent materials. Instead of converting the light to white inside the LED chip, they move the fluorescent material on the surface of the bulb where it's cooler and the power density is lower, which makes it more durable and more efficient than straight white LEDs or even RGB LEDs.

But my Philips LED i got here give perfect white light exactly how i love it.


The new Philips LED bulbs are of this design.

They don't actually put out twice as much light. Plain LED lightbulbs are pretty much 1:1 with CFLs at 60-70 lm/W , and it's actually the fluorescent-LED hybrids that are more efficient at around 100 lm/W.

The problem is that LED bulbs are marketed with ridiculous claims, like 6 Watts for a 60 Watt replacement. That would need 120 lm/W
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2012
The types go roughly as follows:

RGB LED: high efficiency, mediocre color quality CRI 75 - 85
Main problem: discontinous spectrum, colored fringes

White LED: mediocre efficiency, poor color quality CRI < 70
Main problem: changes color over time, blue tint/fringes

LED hybrid: high efficiency, good color quality CRI > 90
Main problem: high price, requires special bulb design
jscroft
1.7 / 5 (24) Dec 03, 2012
These filthy scientists are a threat to America's Light Bulb Freedom act.

If God wanted man to use Luciferian glowing devil sticks then he wouldn't have given the world the glory and beauty of the incandescent light. God's shining light.

Stop them while there is still freedom to be had.


So far, Scott, nobody is forcing anybody to use these things or to refrain from using another product that competes with them. Not that that matters to you, you pathetic clown.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2012
Here you can read about new technology in details. It utilizes multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) dispersed in an emissive layer of poly (N-vinylcarbazole) (PVK):fac-tris(2-phenylpyri-dine)iridium(III) [Ir(ppy)3]. The problem here could be the stability (life-time), because it's fully organic system. It doesn't require rare earth elements, but the main problem is, it utilizes huge amount of VERY expensive iridium. Until they find a different material for it, then the whole technology is just a basic research without any practical value.
icuvd
1 / 5 (5) Dec 03, 2012
Sounds great but is it compatible with existing fixtures or does it have different voltage requirements?
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Dec 03, 2012
The FIPELs in the above article were tested at 20 - 25 V. The voltage requirements of CFLs and LEDs are quite different already - so I presume, it would make no problem for FIPELs.
purdyjo
2.3 / 5 (9) Dec 03, 2012
These filthy scientists are a threat to America's Light Bulb Freedom act.

If God wanted man to use Luciferian glowing devil sticks then he wouldn't have given the world the glory and beauty of the incandescent light. God's shining light.

Stop them while there is still freedom to be had.


So far, Scott, nobody is forcing anybody to use these things or to refrain from using another product that competes with them. Not that that matters to you, you pathetic clown.


That would be something we call sarcasm
GSwift7
2.1 / 5 (8) Dec 03, 2012
There are many industrial facilities where lighting choices are limited to expensive and inefficient varieties, such as food processing plants, cold rooms, places that deal with explosive materials, and clean room type facilities.

A more affordable and efficient solution that meets the requirements of these special applications would be welcome. Flourescent's have a contamination problem, and LED's require you to replace the entire light fixture because they get too hot if you try to install them in most pre-existing enclosures. If the above type of light runs cool enough to plug into existing enclosures, then they might be onto something, even if the bulbs themselves are a bit expensive. It's fairly easy to figure out the cost/benefit of changing to this or not, when they release the cost/unit, hours of operation, and efficiency. If installation is simple plug-in, and the numbers are favorable, then they'll sell billions of them. Or not.
Scott_Dempsey
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2012
As someone already said, the business end of this light source is the very rare and expensive iridium. As such, commercially, it'll never happen.
xeikon
1 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2012
Very beautiful... But at what cost ???? LED light Bulbs are great, but they can be very expensive.
jscroft
1 / 5 (8) Dec 03, 2012
These filthy scientists are a threat to America's Light Bulb Freedom act.

If God wanted man to use Luciferian glowing devil sticks then he wouldn't have given the world the glory and beauty of the incandescent light. God's shining light.

Stop them while there is still freedom to be had.


So far, Scott, nobody is forcing anybody to use these things or to refrain from using another product that competes with them. Not that that matters to you, you pathetic clown.


That would be something we call sarcasm


And your little dog, too!
ValeriaT
2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 03, 2012
Such a "sarcastic comments" belong to Digg, Reddit or similar sites dedicated for kids, who don't understand subject at all, and who just replace the knowledge with sense of humor. I can assure you, if you read such a comments whole day, it's not even funny - it's rather waste of time with human stupidity.
Eikka
1.8 / 5 (4) Dec 03, 2012
If the above type of light runs cool enough to plug into existing enclosures, then they might be onto something


Even with the modern advances, the absolute efficiency of the bulb is still around 15-25% which means most of the input power goes into heat. It's just that incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that we're seeing huge gains.

If out of 15 Watts (100W equiv. @ 100lm/W) of power into the bulb, you heat the bulb with 10 Watts, it's still going to get warm no matter what you do. The question then is, how well does the bulb tolerate high temperatures?
Gentlekid
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 03, 2012
Will it blend?
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Dec 03, 2012
The cost of technology is the general measure of exerted energy. If the cost of lamp stuffed with iridium is higher, than the cost of energy consumed with cheap incandescent bulb during whole its lifetime, then it just means, that the energy required for mining of iridium required is higher than the energy consumed with incandescent bulb. The capitalism isn't about ideology and belief in human progress maintained with noble scientists - it's about cost, savings and expenses. If some technology cannot prove its savings, then these scientists are just another expense and useless in the same way, like whole alleged progress.
Argiod
1 / 5 (5) Dec 03, 2012
The really huge question is how much these things are going to cost. Are they going to keep it reasonable; or are they going to charge, not just for the materials and labor, but for the extended life? If they are more than CFLs then I'll stick to the CFLs.
LED Guy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2012
They comment on the "bluish tinge" of LEDs, but what do they show in the picture? It looks bluish to me!!!!

LEDs and fluorescents for that matter can be adjusted to give virtually any color. They shouldn't try to claim "pure white" as a benefit other technologies can't provide.

As someone who has been around the LED industry for 20 years, I have to say I am not surprised by the lack of key parameters: CCT, CRI, efficacy, lifetime, brightness (nits). In layman's terms: shade of white, color rendering, efficiency, how long will it last and how much do I need for my application?

Then there is the all important parameter: lumens/$ (how much will it cost me?). If you need square feet to light a room, you can pretty much forget it for residential.
LED Guy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2012
Another key thing (and this goes for OLED type lights in general) is that you are getting white light out of a polymer. That means you have blue light somewhere in the mix and blue light and polymers generally don't get along very well. The photon energy is high enough (2.7-2.8 eV) to start breaking bonds in the backbone of your polymer. Carbon-carbon single bonds are fine, but everything else is suspect.
LED Guy
not rated yet Dec 03, 2012
The other problem with these area type emitters is that you have some sort of transparent conductor. These days that means ITO (indium tin oxide). That isn't going to come cheaply since the supply of indium is limited and most of it is being used up for LCD TVs and those wonderful touch screens on everyone's smart phone.

There are "conductive" polymers, but it is a relative thing. They really aren't all that great at conducting electricity. Orders of magnitude better than traditional polymers/plastics is still orders of magnitude worse than metals. Resistive losses add up and limit overall efficiency.
Caliban
not rated yet Dec 04, 2012
The other problem with these area type emitters is that you have some sort of transparent conductor. These days that means ITO (indium tin oxide).


They may have found a way around that:

http://phys.org/n...des.html

But who knows how much licensing/buyout/merger of the process will add to the final cost.

VendicarD
2 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2012
Does it make a good mix with scotch?

"Will it blend?" - GentleKid
VendicarD
2 / 5 (4) Dec 04, 2012
3/1/2011--Introduced.Light Bulb Freedom Act - Amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to repeal provisions concerning energy efficiency standards for general service incandescent lamps, rough service lamps, other designated lamps, and incandescent reflector lamps unless the Comptroller General has transmitted to Congress within six months
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Dec 04, 2012
They comment on the "bluish tinge" of LEDs, but what do they show in the picture? It looks bluish to me!!!!


You mean, it looks bluish by how the camera was calibrated, and interpreted through your monitor's color reproduction, and then by your brain according to how much light you're sensing at the moment.

If you've been in the business for 20 years, you should know that what passes as "white" for the human perception system depends on a number of variables anyways. Increase the light levels, and suddenly it's no longer blue - but your previous "warm white" bulb starts to look like yellow piss.

The bluish tinge of LEDs comes from the way the white LED chips are manufactured and how they work. The color isn't uniform across the beam, so you get blue fringes with a yellow spot in the middle. It can be helped with diffusers, but that reduces the efficiency.
Neinsense99
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 04, 2012
"The LED's last much longer and no danger if it brakes." What is the minimum stopping distance at 60 km/h for these moving LED lights?

It's break, not brake.
jimbo92107
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2012
Sounds too good to be true.


It sounds too logical to be allowed on the market.
Can't they make it more wasteful?
VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Dec 04, 2012
Bluish? Odd. You don't look Bluish.

Some of my best friends are Bluish.

Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Dec 05, 2012
lol
Can you compete?
http://phys.org/n...nds.html
Candle flames contain millions of tiny diamonds
SamB
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 06, 2012
Main problem:
1. Read news about new light bulb...
2. Three years later still using Edison's great invention.
3. Read another news flash about another a great lighting innovation.
4. 4 years later till using an incandescent light bulb...
5. Go out to buy the latest $50 LED 100 watt(equivalent) light bulb..
6.. (You are getting the picture by now!)
VendicarD
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2012
No Edison energy wasters in my home. Even the refrigerator uses LED lighting....

No rational, thinking person uses Incandescent lighting these days unless they are forced to.

ValeriaT
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2012
No rational, thinking person uses Incandescent lighting these days unless they are forced to
The problem is, poorly thinking people can recognize energy expenditure only when they can measure it directly with their power meter. But the price of lamp expresses the price of energy involved into its production. The incandescent lamp costs $0.1 and it consumes energy for $10 during its usage. The LED light costs $10 and it consumes energy for $1 during its usage. Which technology is still more energetically effective after then?
ValeriaT
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 07, 2012
Even the refrigerator uses LED lighting....
The refrigerator is just the example, where the application of LED is the actual waste of energy, because the production of incandescent lamp requires a way less energy than the production of LED and the usage time of such lamp in refrigerator is minimal - just few hours, if not minutes during the lifetime of refrigerator. Your way of thinking just demonstrates the way in which many naive American consumers are thinking. They're really believing, if they buy a dirty expensive electric car, which saves few gallons per mile like Leonardo diCaprio, they're protecting the Nature. And they're all very surprised, when the China doesn't want to sell the rare-earth elements for their "energy savings" anymore.
zaxxon451
1 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2012
But I like the buzz.
Neinsense99
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 07, 2012
Three observations:
1. Regretably, pointless, somewhat predictable jokes are to be expected here
2. Some commenters can't take a joke and need to demonstrate their 'superiority' by being conspicuously serious
3. Lighting aside, there needs to be a better sarcasm detector developed and made available for download on the forum registration page.
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2012
because the production of incandescent lamp requires a way less energy than the production of LED


Depends on the LED. The kind that one would use in a fridge cost fractions of a penny, and are actually cheaper to make than small 1-2 Watt lightbulbs because they use less materials, and they use plastic instead of glass which requires less energy to form.
nannasin28
1 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2012
Not that that matters to you, you pathetic clown.LM311
johanfprins
1 / 5 (6) Dec 10, 2012
Such a "sarcastic comments" belong to Digg, Reddit or similar sites dedicated for kids, who don't understand subject at all, and who just replace the knowledge with sense of humor. I can assure you, if you read such a comments whole day, it's not even funny - it's rather waste of time with human stupidity.


This is how I experience your comments using plastic ducks and foam to "model" "wave-particle duality". Maybe you should consider posting on Digg and Reddit?
Parsec
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 10, 2012
Again, all the sexy new tech sounds dreamy --but what about some basic operative information, like, for instance, power consumption?

This lighting could be the single most spectacular thing since the development of ice cream, but if it isn't efficient, then it goes nowhere.

"twice as effecient as CFL's..." reading the article would help.
rubberman
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 11, 2012
I have seen this tech at a lighting trade show "back room" demonstration, it was right next to cold cathode lighting which actually has commercially viable applications. LED guy is correct regarding the blue light component breaking down the polymer bonds, it is the reason alot of fixture lenses appear to cloud up over time and the reason alot of exterior light fixtures began to use acrylic lenses. Not immune, but they handle it better.
barakn
3 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2012
The refrigerator is just the example, where the application of LED is the actual waste of energy, because the production of incandescent lamp requires a way less energy than the production of LED
The refrigerator will need to work longer/harder to dispose of the ~4x greater amount of waste heat from the incandescent, which will cause it to use more energy beyond the energy requirements of the bulb itself. Zephir has underestimated the amount of time a fridge light stays on, probably because he lives alone and consumes nothing but plum brandy - no food whatsoever. The typical fridge will go through multiple generations of incandescents, where it would make do with just one LED. Since the waste heat is typically produced right under the floor of the freezer, the LED will cause less frost buildup and freezer burn, and in the refrigerator compartment the smaller bursts of heat will slow the growth of bacteria and mold, leading to less food wastage (currently 40% in the US).
Eikka
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2012
The refrigerator will need to work longer/harder to dispose of the ~4x greater amount of waste heat from the incandescent


I would say it's a much bigger problem to the fridge that the door is open whenever the light is on.

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