Could an LED Revolution Give Us Light Like the Sun?

Could an LED Revolution Give Us Light Like the Sun?

Headed by a group of scientists over in Germany, is a project that aims to see whether LED lights can be revolutionised, providing a whiter light in the process. As a direct result of the research undertaken, they have devised a new luminescent material for LED bulbs, with the Phosphor it includes improving energy efficiency and makes the artificial light provided almost as natural as the light provided by the sun.

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Inspiration From Shopping

German chemist Wolfgang Schnick has been researching luminescent materials since 2001. Inspired by some lengthy shopping trips with his wife, he wanted to research the differences between good and bad light. While shopping, his wife would often ask to view dresses outside the store because of the distortion of the light in the store itself. Poor quality lights in stores is something that many of us do not think about, but it is something that greatly affects the shopping experience, making blue T-Shirts appear black.

The Impact of a New Luminophore

Powered primarily by the opportunity to end poor lighting in retail, Schnick and his team at the Ludwig-Maximillians University over in Munich developed the luminescent material. As part of this, a luminophore (a chemical compound that is commonly used in luminescence) changes the colour of the light emitted by LEDs so that they can create a brighter, whiter light that will revolutionise the LED market.

The Increasing Popularity of LEDs

LEDs have gone from strength to strength since incandescent light bulbs were ordered off the EU market back in 2012. Popular because of the speed they light up at and the efficiency they provide, they are popular in both business and domestic environments. With a minimal warm-up phase and a complete lack of toxic material, they’re perfect for the eco-savvy.

The fact that do not have a total dominance of the market, however, stems from the fact that they’re only able to emit one colour, meaning that they’re unsuitable for some situations. However, having said that, in the day-to-day world, a changing of lighting colour isn’t necessarily required.

Changes For the Better: Improving LED Technology

Over the course of the past decade, Schnick’s team have collaborated with the Phillips Lumileds Development Centre to develop a material that works across a range of lighting options, and not just LEDs.

Their old offering was efficient, but not quite good enough for the industry, so they refined it further, aiming to make LEDs provide light like the sun. The whole focus of the paper and the research has been to ensure that colour can be measured on the Colour Rendering Index to ensure accuracy and quality of light. At present, sunlight is 100 on the scale, with LEDs measuring at around 80-85. Schnick’s team’s luminescent material will record at above 90.

Quality Meets Efficiency

The quality of the light, however, isn’t the only improvement that the luminophore will make, as it will also boost the efficiency of the light, providing a further eco-push for an industry which has been criticised roundly in the past for failings in this regard.

Unbeknown to many, LED lights actually waste a lot of the energy they produce as the human eye cannot process it. The luminescent materials that a LED light currently uses provides far too much red light and, as a result, it works almost like an infrared light, producing light we cannot process or see.

For this reason, Schnick’s team’s design means that far less red light is added to the colour mix, with the new bulbs being around 15% more efficient than the ones that are currently on offer.

As a direct result of all this, it seems as though it will not be long at all until LEDs overtake CFLs in terms of efficiency. Once this happens, which should be within the next few years, it looks like CFLs will be phased out of the market, something that most scientists will be enthusiastic about. Many scientists have been wary about CFLs because they contain mercury, causing a serious issue if they are damaged or break. With LEDs there’s no such risk, providing ultimate peace of mind.

It may not quite be the case that the technology is ready to roll of the production line, with final designs and production to be sorted but, with more efficient, brighter, truer light, the move can only be a good thing, making light reflect that of the sun and revolutionise the LED industry in the process.

About the Author: Chris Horridge

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