Professor David Carroll and Greg Smith (background) with the prototype lighting element (via Wake Forest University)
The days of flickering, buzzing fluorescent lighting could be coming to an end if scientists from Wake Forest University have their way. The group, led by physics Professor David Carroll, has designed a new light that’s flicker-free and shatterproof that can be implemented on a large scale like that of their gaseous counterparts. The fluorescent replacement (based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology) was developed using a nano-engineered polymer matrix that converts an electrical charge into a soft white luminescence. In a recently released paper, the team describes the development of the bulb as a stacked design. Within several layers of moldable white-emitting polymer, it has multi-walled carbon nanotubes that are dispersed in an emissive layer embedded between the plastic sheets. The nanotubes emit a white luminescent glow (similar to natural sunlight) when an electric current is passed through the layers. The bulbs can be made in almost any shape and in just about any color imaginable. They can also be adapted to fit just about any socket, even pre-existing Edison sockets. The group states that their new lighting solution is twice as efficient as standard fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, as robust as LED’s, don’t emit heat and will not shatter on impact when dropped. Unlike other bulbs, the teams new light is environment friendly and a viable ‘green’ solution over current lighting tech. This light does not contain any toxic elements such as mercury which is found in many CFL bulbs today. The group states that while these bulbs can replace current CFLs, they also envision their technology being implemented in large display lighting such as store/business marquee’s as well as signs on buses and subways. The University is already working with a company (unknown at this moment) to manufacture the bulbs and should be commercially available sometime next year (2013).