The light bulb industry is evolving, going high-tech, some would say. And polymers are pushing the trend along.
We’re all familiar with the tried-and-true incandescent bulb, the one that Thomas Edison came up with. It has been our faithful, illuminating companion for 130 years. Trouble is, it is also power-hungry, inefficient, short-lived, and fragile, reports TechCrunch.
The bulbs’ inefficiencies mean that they are not the best lighting product moving forward. Modern incandescents convert about 90% of their energy into heat, rather than light.
Bulbs with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are much more efficient. LEDs are solid-state. Whereas incandescent bulbs use a filament wire heated by an electric current, LEDs use semiconductors to emit light. As a result, they emit more light per watt than incandescents, saving energy, radiate very little heat, and last between 35,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to incandescents 1,000 to 2,000 hours.
LEDs cost more than incandescents, but there is less pain in their purchase because they last so much longer than the old bulbs and save money with less energy use. Moreover, as TechCrunch reports:
As seen in other industries, semiconductors improve at an exponential rate and have a way of taking over wherever they are used. Lighting should prove to be no different.
Polymer light-emitting diodes, or PLEDs, use electroluminescent conductive polymers that emit light when they are connected to an external voltage. Typical polymers used for PLEDs include derivatives of poly(p-phenylene vinylene) and polyfluorene. They can be used as a thin film for full-spectrum color displays. Like LEDs, PLEDs are efficient and require a relatively small amount of power for the amount of light they produce.
Because semiconductors are not being used for light, the technology could mean that light will eventually be used as gagets. As TechCrunch writes:
Today’s technology brings with it intelligence and connectivity, which makes way for lights that can be tracked, controlled remotely, and designed to work with other devices. While the humble incandescent was just a conduit for electricity and output both light and heat, a modern-day bulb can be and do much more.
Source: “Up Close With The Next Big Home Commodity: LED Lighting,” TechCrunch, 9/30/12
Image by Gussisaurio.
Dale McGeehon has been a journalist and editor for more than 25 years, covering chemical regulation and testing for Pesticides and Toxic Chemical News and innovations in material sciences for the National Technology Transfer Center. His writing credits include Omni and College Park magazines and The New York Times.