Scientists in the US have developed a flicker-free plastic lightbulb they claim is as efficient as LEDs but gives out a softer light.
The researchers from Wake Forest University in North Carolina say the new bulbs, made from a polymer blended with nanomaterials that emit white light when a current is passed through them, could replace traditional fluorescent lights and would be twice as efficient.
‘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 project leader David Carroll in a statement. ‘The new lights we have created can cure both of those problems and more.’
The new bulbs are made from three layers of mouldable white-emitting polymer that can be made into any shape and colour, and are blended with a small amount of nanomaterials that emit light via a process known as field-induced polymer electroluminescence (FIPEL).
They provide an alternative to LED lights, which are growing in popularity as traditional inefficient incandescent and fluorescent bulbs are replaced, but which can produce light that seems more cold and unnatural and which can also suffer problems with flickering if combined with a dimmer switch.
‘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 says his group is the first to make a large-scale FIPEL bulb that can replace current office lighting and is based on natural white light. He added that the bulbs could also be used for large display lighting.
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.