A non-flickering, shatterproof lighting technology is poised to hit the market this year, and its soft, white light may threaten fluorescent and LED popularity.
Developed by scientists at Wake Forest University, the lighting is based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (FIPEL) technology. Three layers of moldable white-emitting polymer are combined with nanomaterials that glow when stimulated by electricity, resulting in a sunlight-esque output.
The result is at least twice as efficient as compact fluorescent lighting and is roughly equal to LED efficiency, says says David Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest and the leader of the FIPEL device development team.
Because the device uses a specially engineered matrix to convert the electric charge into visible light, the researchers were able to create a new light bulb, a hurdle that has previously hindered the use of plastic lights. Future manufacturers will be able to shape the moldable plastic into any shape necessary, from traditional Edison bulbs to flat sheets that can replace office lighting.
“People often complain that fluorescent lights bother their eyes, and the hum from fluorescent tubes irritates anyone sitting at a desk underneath them,” Carroll says. “The new lights we have created can cure both of those problems.”
Basic FIPEL technology has been around for years – Carroll has a FIPEL unit that still works a decade later – but this research team is the first to produce it on a scale large enough to present a viable alternative for office lighting.
Wake Forest has partnered with a company to manufacture FIPEL lighting on a larger scale and hopes to release it commercially as early as this year.