Researchers Develop Nanofiber-Based Technology to Make Energy-Efficient Lighting

Feb 10, 2010
Solid-State Lighting Device

(PhysOrg.com) -- RTI International has developed a revolutionary lighting technology that is more energy efficient than the common incandescent light bulb and does not contain mercury, making it environmentally safer than the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.

At the core of RTI's breakthrough is an advanced nanofiber structure that provides exceptional lighting management. Nanofibers are materials with diameters and surface features much smaller than the human hair but with comparable lengths.

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This video describes RTI's development of a polymer nanofiber material with nanoscale properties that provides cost-effective management of visible light in a solid-state lighting device. Prototypes of unique lighting device designs incorporating this breakthrough are also shown in the video. These device prototypes produce full-spectrum white light more efficiently than standard incandescent or fluorescent lights and also provide excellent color-rendering performance. The project is funded by the Department of Energy.

RTI's technology, which was funded in part by the Department of Energy's Solid-State Lighting program, centers around advancements in the nanoscale properties of materials to create high-performance, nanofiber-based reflectors and photoluminescent nanofibers (PLN). When the two nanoscale technologies are combined, a high-efficiency lighting device is produced that is capable of generating in excess of 55 lumens of light output per electrical watt consumed. This efficiency is more than five times greater than that of traditional incandescent bulbs.

"By using flexible photoluminescent nanofiber technologies for light management, RTI has opened the door to the creation of new designs for solid-state lighting applications," says Lynn Davis, Ph.D., director of RTI's Program. "This new class of materials can provide cost-effective, safe and efficient lighting solutions."

Additionally, RTI's technology produces an aesthetically pleasing light with better color rendering properties than is typically found in CFLs. The technology has demonstrated color rendering indices in excess of 90 for warm white, neutral white, and cool white illumination sources.

"Because lighting consumes almost one-fourth of all electricity generated in the United States, our technology could have a significant impact in reducing energy consumption and ," Davis said. "The technology also does not contain mercury, which makes it more environmentally friendly and safer to handle than CFLs and other fluorescent lamps."

It is anticipated that commercial products containing this breakthrough will be available in three to five years.

Explore further: Mirror-image forms of corannulene molecules could lead to exciting new possibilities in nanotechnology

Provided by RTI International

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User comments : 7

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Paradox
not rated yet Feb 10, 2010
Just using led's would be more cost efficient. Since they are using the led's anyway, they should be focusing on creating an led that resembles natural light instead of shining the led light through the nanofiber film. This is what our government spends our tax dollars on?
stealthc
not rated yet Feb 10, 2010
I think this is a useful invention, and paradox's comments are suggestive that he knows nothing about how led's are manufactured and how a balanced white light source is achieved.
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
The article did mention that this nanofiber material contains no mercury or gasses, improving environmental impact. It looks like manufacturing will be simpler than CFLs. The color problem appears non-existent. The fiber appears to solve the problem with LEDs shining a fierce little point source by creating a soft, bright diffusion.

I wouldn't call this a "breakthrough" so much as a useful innovation. You can already buy fairly cheap compact fluorescent bulbs that get you the same lumens as a 100W incandescent bulb for about 25W of power. CFLs are now available in many colors, even 3-way bulbs.

I have no objection to my government funding such research, but I'm not jumping for joy at this news. Make me a bulb that lights my world for 1/10th the energy of incandescent, and then we'll throw a parade.
FastEddy
not rated yet Feb 10, 2010
" ... I wouldn't call this a "breakthrough" so much as a useful innovation. ..."

Certainly, very, very useful. Any advances in solid state lighting would be useful. This will be viable shortly, practical later, possibly massively distributed soon. Not a point source or two dimensional source like incandescent for fluorescent but a light that reduces shadows, is more efficient than either = a breakthrough. It is really hard to do better than Nicole Tesla ...
spiderz
not rated yet Feb 11, 2010
I work in architectural lighting and currently their is a big push to use LEDs. It is more legwork in the design stage, but definately the best way to go. They are running at 100+ lumen per watt for cool/neutral right now and a bit less for warm (80).
alq131
not rated yet Feb 12, 2010
I, too, don't quite know what the problem is that they are trying to solve. When LED's are manufactured, they also use/imbed a phosphor that changes the light color into something palatable. Is this nanofiber mat supposed to replace those phosphors? Is the mat supposed to "harvest" the spectral output of the LED and re-emit in a band that more closely approximates light in a way that existing phosphors can't. The argument about "mercury free" is a bit misplaced. THey arent creating LED's, or a new light, they are creating a phosphor mat.
RETT
not rated yet Mar 08, 2010
The point here folks is that we can use the simplest and most easily and cheaply manufacturable LED's with this matting to produce properly diffused and color corrected light appropriate for humans to be exposed to. In addition, this material can be easily made into shapes that LED's would not efficiently achieve, and would not have the glare normally created from higher intensity LED's. Looking at the material, it should be easy and cheap to manufacture in almost any quantity while providing the flexibility in end use that is needed to replace almost all current lighting. What is not to like. Now, we don't have to continue to spend vast amounts of money to try to produce LED's that can kick out all the myriad frequencies that are needed for all the possible applications. Just change the formula for the matting and the problem is solved.