Systems using neon lighting require 30% to 50% less electrical current than incandescent technology, depending on the design. What is more, neon systems are claimed to provide longer life. They also have a faster rise time than incandescent systems, because it takes less time to excite a gas than to heat a filament. It is claimed that they also offer more uniform illumination than either LED or incandescent systems and higher illumination than incandescent systems.
Now, a new neon lighting system has been developed by Corning specifically for automotive lighting applications. The Corning lights use a thin lightweight glass that has a maximum size of 10in. 3 24in. and a total depth (including curvature) of 4in. These dimensions allow the tail lamps to `wrap’ around the back end of a vehicle.
The ballasts needed to power these lamps will run on a 12V power supply and will provide between 1500V to 2500V at 15mA to 25mA. Power consumption is expected to be less than half of incandescent technology.
While chromaticity can be achieved without the use of a red lens, a lens will most likely be used for styling purposes. A smooth lit appearance over large areas can be achieved using this approach. Because the process that Corning has used to develop the lights allows for low pressure operation, the company claims that it is twice as efficient in light output than current neon tube technology.
The company also states that the its new neon technology is more rigid than conventional neon tubing, offers a greater resistance to shock and vibration as well as provides more options for styling.
It has been estimated that a rear light is presently used for approximately 2000h over the lifetime of a car. The current samples of the Corning neon lighting have been tested to 2000h without any problems.
Figure 1: The Corning neon lamp can be used in rear lighting for automobiles
Figure 2: A comparison of Corning’s neon with current automotive neon tube technology