Luxim's tiny plasma lightbulb outshines LEDs

Mar 20, 2008 by Lisa Zyga weblog
Luxim  lightbulb

A Tic-Tac-sized lightbulb that gives off as much light as a streetlamp may offer a peek at the ultra-efficient lighting of the future. The bulb, developed by Luxim of Sunnyvale, California, uses plasma technology to achieve its brightness.

The tiny bulb contains an argon gas in the middle, as well as a component called a "puck." The bulb is partially embedded in a dielectric material. When electrical energy is delivered to the puck, the puck acts like an electrical lens. It heats up the argon to a temperature of 6000 degrees Kelvin, and turns the gas into a plasma that gives off light.

The plasma, whose 6000-degree temperature is similar to that of the surface of the sun, also emits a spectrum that looks very similar to the spectrum of sunlight.

The plasma bulb uses 250 watts, and achieves around 140 lumens per watt, making it very bright and highly efficient. By comparison, conventional lightbulbs and high-end LEDs get around 15 and 70 lumens per watt, respectively.

"A key advantage is that the energy is driven into the bulb without any electrodes, so you don't need any electrical connections to get the energy into the bulb," Luxim CEO Tony McGettigan explained to ZDNet.

Luxim is using different versions of its electrode-less plasma technology to develop lighting for ultra-bright projection displays, retail and street lighting, microscope lighting, and various medical applications.

More information:

via: ZDNet

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4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2008
"A key advantage is that the energy is driven into the bulb without any electrodes, so you don't need any electrical connections to get the energy into the bulb,"

Seriously, connections are the least of the problems, efficiency is what matters.
3.5 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2008
"When electrical energy is delivered to the puck" - How?
..."the puck acts like an electrical lens" - What???
Doesn't sound too reliable. I doubt anything that uses a 6000K plasma is going to last long. Certainly not as long as a LED (IIRC record is around 140lm/W)
4 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2008
They claim more than 80% of original output after 25 000 hours. The drive electronics is probably the limiting factor as far as lifetime is concerned, not the gas filled bulb.
4 / 5 (2) Mar 21, 2008
Hmm... Nikola Tesla invented the electrode-less lamp in the 1890's (a man way ahead of his time).

For those wonder how this is done and why.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 21, 2008
It doesn't really matter, CFLs are mandated by law. In our free market economy.
4 / 5 (2) Mar 21, 2008
Until people start dropping from mercury poisoning.

Just one of the more recent articles I've come across: http://www.msnbc....3694819/

5 / 5 (1) Mar 21, 2008
In this case, the "electric lens" is just a dielectric waveguide. Nothing really unusual, in theory. The temperature of the plasma isn't really that absurd either. Plasma temperatures of a few million degrees can be achieved in the laboratory. The technical information on the website doesn't help much, but 6000k is a pretty white light. As long as the plasma is confined to the center of the bulb using the guided E field, then the outside of the bulb shouldn't heat up significantly. It seems likely that the dielectric also would serve to get any heat generated out.

Now, I'm just speculating but this looks similar to the older sulfur plasma lamps. They had problems with destroying the lamp because of the high temperature. While confining the plasma with varying E-fields, the heat transfer should be minimal. If we are to believe that the bulb is evacuated then backfilled with a small argon charge, then the thermal transfer goes with the Stefan Boltzmann law which is radiative and not conductive. That alone would help reduce the bulb temperatures.

This is a fantastic device and I would love to demo one! (Until those 300lm/W white LED's can produce this much light)
5 / 5 (1) Mar 21, 2008
The plasma bulb uses 250 watts, and achieves around 140 lumens per watt, making it very bright and highly efficient.

Thats 35000 Lumens boys and girls...I'd say they're onto something useful, if they can surpass the lifespan of LEDs that is!
5 / 5 (1) Mar 25, 2008
If it works, sounds great. I wonder about getting rid of the unused part of the 250 W in a tic-tac-size item.
Incidentally, the proposed laws I have heard about merely mandate more efficient lamps, not CFLs specifically. I am eager for better environmental solutions than the CFLs I have all around my house right now.
not rated yet Jul 16, 2008
come on guys, 5mg of mercury is not much, we should address the problem through recycling, rather than simply ban everything we don't want to see in landfill. in the UK it is mandatory to recycle these, though enforcement is difficult. Seriously, we should only need to consider accidental breakage and release, and be confident that all the raw materials are recaptured. CCFLs are tons better than incandescents, and are OK for now.
not rated yet Aug 20, 2009
im by no means an expert nor will i pretend to be, but after watching the demo video for this bulb, i had a thought and it keeps bugging me. could this technology be applied to leds. i've seen flouro tubes glow in front of a radio tarnsmitter, and was wondering if these means of gas excitation could be used could be used/applied to the semi conductor junction as in leds.
this could have massive benefits as the limiting factor with the newest surface mount leds is the junction temp at the board. i cant help but think that this would be even more efficient, plus when leds have such narrow out put frequencies this could lead to very high power laser diodes.