Earlier this week, news emerged from the US that researchers have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new source is reportedly more efficient, produces a better quality of light and is flicker free.
Whilst the concept of light from polymers is certainly intriguing, I was somewhat taken aback by the attention the story received. After all, we already have viable alternatives for the fluorescent tube that does all of the above. So why are we under the impression that we don’t?
To understand the context we need to look back. The UK has long had a fascination with the T8 fluorescent tube. Wherever you look; whether waiting for a train, riding a bus, working in an office, shopping in a department store, or parking in a car park, the T8 fluorescent is ever present.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are a form of solid-state lighting that is extremely efficient and long-lasting. While incandescent and fluorescent lights consist of filaments in glass bulbs or bulbs that contain gases, LEDs consist of small capsules or lenses in which tiny chips are placed on heat-conducting material.
Size and Efficiency
LEDs measure from 3 to 8 mm long and can be used singly or as part of an array. The small size and low profile of LEDs allow them to be used in spaces that are too small for other lightbulbs. In addition, because LEDs give off light in a specific direction, they are more efficient in application than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, which waste energy by emitting light in all directions.