Wake Forest University scientists have devised a shatterproof, white light, flicker-free lighting device based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent (FIPEL) technology. (Source: Wake Forest University)
Thanks, Ann for this awesome news and the free PDF. I'm amused / frustrated / encouraged that Professor Carroll has had an operating device for the past 10 years and we haven't seen faster commercialization of the FIPEL technology. A quick search shows the primary ingredient [Ir(pp)3] is fairly expensive in research quantities at $0.91 / milligram while the other components, PVK at $0.03 / mg and MWNT ($0.02 / mg) are relatively inexpensive. The device in this research shows a 500% increase in luminance. We can all hope that additional research will discover additional leaps in efficiency. Commercial availability later this year is fantastic.
Interesting technology that solves the problem of the fragility of lightbulbs, but like the other commenter I am surprised this hasn't been brought to light (no pun intended) sooner if the technology has been around so long. I'm not a massive fan of plastic, though, but it does sound like a more eco-friendly design with the elimination of mercury and the reduced production costs. Perhaps recycled plastic could even be used in mass production down the line?
I agree - the first question that popped into my head was why such a long time to market? I absolutely love the idea of unbreakable bulbs and hope this technology takes off. I think you have a great idea, Elizabeth - recycled plastics would go a long way in making them even more eco-friendly. Flicker-free is another plus - sounds like a winner if its cost-effective.
Maybe we're all used to Silicon Valley-style announcements of new technology for sale right now in high volumes, and not of the long R&D cycle behind that technology. In materials technology, especially energy-related, development can take a long time. Thanks, William, for finding those cost figures. The main researcher has had a single working device for a long time--but not a bulb, and, presumably, a very expensive device, and, I'd guess, one he's been tinkering with as a prototype.
It would be great if recycled plastic could be used in devices such as this, but I think it's unlikely that will happen anytime soon. The plastic used in this device is a highly customized and engineered material, which is why it can do what it does. And plastics are not monolithic: they differ greatly in their ability to be recycled into something usable, and the vast majority of available recycled plastic in the US is still of only 1 or 2 types, as we discuss here
Perhaps in the future we'll have an existing, functional infrastructure with multiple known waste streams, so the specific recycled material a manufacturer needs is as easily obtainable as buying virgin plastic. But we're not there yet.
Thanks for the great information Ann - just goes to show how we take for granted things outside of our areas of expertise...that's what I love about this forum, it's a great way to learn from others. Makes perfect sense now that you've pointed it out...and a great idea about multiple waste streams fro recycled material. The logistical complexity would be huge but the payoff would be enormous.
Yes, I did wonder about that, Ann...if the material was so specialized that perhaps recycled plastic is not an option. Maybe down the line this could work but as you point out, we're definitely not there yet--which is a shame, because there is so much plastic in the world that goes to waste!
Ann, What a great article. Given the tremendous luminance output and efficiency of FIPEL and its applications for commerical and residential lighting, what happens to the lonely LED? I'm curious to know the thermal capabilities, in terms of watts, and how it stacks against high bright LEDs. I've worked on LED projects for automotive and residential lighting applications and the biggest challenged I had was thermal management of the LEDs and the switching mode power supplies. Also, to put a solid state lighting (SSL) product out on the market requires a tremendous amount of testing (6000hrs) to be Energy Star and DOE compliant per the SSL LM80 testing document. Once the SSL product meets the LM80 requirements, its ready to be a saleable consumer item for purchasing.
Thanks, mrdon, glad you liked the article. We give links in the blog to a detailed journal article that may have the info you're looking for. Regarding SSL, this technology doesn't sound like it qualifies.