New 'plasma lamps' to replace fluorescent bulbs, LEDs
Boffins bid for spinout riches on flat, bendy glow-sheets
Boffins hope to be rolling in cash after finding a new way to use plasma to make light bulbs.
The research team, which was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, has made wafer-thin, flexible sheets of light by putting plasma in an array of micro-cavities in a sheet of aluminium foil, and now hopes to build a company from the discovery.
The foil has a thickness of just 125 microns, and then the cavities are sealed with very thin sheets of glass, creating a "bulb" that is one or two millimetres thick.
A number of gases can be used to make the plasma needed for the arrays, but in the commercial versions of the lights, rare gases produce ultraviolet light and special phosphors convert the UV into visible light.
The company set up to market the bulbs is called Eden Park Illumination after the two boffins who came up with the arrays, Gary Eden and Sung-Jin Park.
Apart from being flat and flexible, the new lights are more energy efficient because of their shape: an ordinary fluorescent light tube has an efficiency of around 75 to 80 lumens per watt, but a lot of that is lost because of its 360 degree design. The arrays have a utilisation efficiency of over 90 per cent so a smaller array has the same output.
The plasma lights can be dimmed, they don't contain mercury and they generate far less heat than LEDs. You won't be seeing the bulbs at your corner shop anytime soon though, because although the materials to manufacture the arrays are cheap, the rate of production isn't up to speed yet. ®
Efficiency/heat claims don't seem right
If you're flat-out more efficient than fluorescent, you claim that. They didn't claim that, they claimed that they were "directed". So they're not more efficient than fluorescent. At the same time, they claim to produce less heat than LEDs. That means more efficient than LEDs -- which are more efficient than fluorescent, and are also directed.
This does not add up. Lumens per watt, please, and talk to us about CRI and spectrum.
Cheaper than LED, and directed, and nearly as efficient, that would be worth hearing about.
I look forward to seeing this on BBC's "Have Your Say"...
Smaller, more efficient, non-toxic - they'll be furious, and somehow manage to blame the EU.
If this is coming from a plasma, does that mean the spectrum of the generated light is vaguely thermal, rather than the spikey fluourescent crap we're all suffering at the moment.
(Anecdote: I was at the local hospital having my eyes examined the other day and I was given a colour vision test. Lots of cards with numbers written in coloured dots. Only problem was, the local lighting was all coming from CFL lighting. Unsurprisingly, I scored miserably. It's kinda hard to see coloured dots when there's no ambient light of that colour to be reflected. More surprisingly, the doctors doing the test didn't seem to think the lighting was an issue. I expect we'll be reading reports in a few years time telling us that the nation's colour vision has nose-dived and medical experts are mystified but think there may be a connection with <insert-fad-of-the-day>.)