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Power Science

Researchers Create New Cheap, Shatterproof, Plastic Light Bulbs 296

Posted by samzenpus
from the light-up-your-life dept.
hattig writes "US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent (Fipel) technology. It is made from three layers of white-emitting polymer that contain a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them. The developer is promising cheap, hard-to-break, mercury-free, highly efficient bulbs from 2013."
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Researchers Create New Cheap, Shatterproof, Plastic Light Bulbs

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  • by localman57 (1340533) on Monday December 03, 2012 @09:52AM (#42168069)
    A vison of the future is coming to me... I see... Angry old people...Muttering in the aisles at wal-mart...calling their congressman...bitching at dennys...about... what?...I can almost hear it... yes! They're complaining about the phasing out of of the CFL lightbulbs in favor of these new ones...

    Everything is cyclical, I guess...
    • There are always drawbacks. There is less reason for the inventer to show the drawbacks. Call me a cynic, but I'll hold my excitement for them until we see all the ups and downs. Who knows, maybe those old people will be right.
      • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:28AM (#42168395)

        Is issue isn't if the Old People are Right or Wrong, but their reasoning for their decision.

        Often the argument is driven by a nostalgic emotional attachment, and not by any rational measuring of the advantages vs disadvantages.

        A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off, vs. the harsher unleaded gasoline smell. Is a slightly better smell while filling your tank worth having hazardous chemicals in the air, and a residue that can get on your hands that is harmful as well?

        Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition. Does the difference in taste and a minor improvement in nutrition outweigh the serious illnesses you can get from it?

        If you go across hating everything, you can always nitpick and hang onto that one redeeming feature no matter how minor it is. Or you can jump on the bandwagon and say everything that comes out is immediately superior. Or you can just be balanced and actually stop thinking you are an expert in everything, and try it out, and/or read about it from many sources and judge for yourself if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

        • by halltk1983 (855209) <halltk1983@yahoo.com> on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:08AM (#42168847) Homepage Journal
          I see a flicker from florescent lights. CFLs and bar style. Bugs the crap out of me. Had to switch to torchiere style lights so it at least bounces off the ceiling first. They cause me headaches over a long period of time. I switched a lot of my lights I use most commonly to LEDs around the house and it helped. Point being, sometimes people don't hate something because it's different. Haven't bought an incandescent bulb in years, because I'm energy conscious, but I can see where others might not want to subject themselves to headaches because someone else says they can't buy the bulbs they like.
          • by hackertourist (2202674) <(ln.tensmx) (ta) (tsiruotrekcah)> on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:40AM (#42169245)

            For TL tubes, you can get dimmable electronic ballasts which convert the power grid frequency to something in the 10 kHz range. I have one hanging over the dining room table, and it's wonderfully silent and flicker-free. The only drawback is the price (~$40).

          • I see a flicker from florescent lights. CFLs and bar style. Bugs the crap out of me. Had to switch to torchiere style lights so it at least bounces off the ceiling first.

            Um, what does "bouncing it off the ceiling" do to reduce flicker?

          • by RealGene (1025017) on Monday December 03, 2012 @05:35PM (#42173217)
            Only the oldest CFLs used a magnetic ballast at line frequency; virtually all on the market today use a high frequency (> 10 kHz) switching supply to in order to reduce the size and cost of the transformer.
            If your CFLs are perceptibly flickering, it is due to some other device affecting the power quality (large appliance motors, usually).
            Older and "bargain" tube-style fluorescent fixtures use magnetic ballasts, so it isn't uncommon for those to flicker.
            Sometimes perceived flicker is due to vibration (jiggling eyeballs).
            View the light source through a moving electric fan blade.
            If you can see blade images (think wagon wheels in the movies), you have a magnetic ballast light source.
            I'm pretty sure that no human can perceive flicker faster than ~110 Hz.
        • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:13AM (#42168909)

          The bulb backlash is driven mostly by a political divide. The US is very much a two-faction country, politically - the liberals and the conservatives, represented by their respective political parties. Environmental causes have long been seen as a very liberal thing, so those on the conservative faction feel they are obliged to downplay the issue and oppose any solution.

          • by kimvette (919543)

            I'm fiscally conservative, and see conservation as a smart financial move. However, it has to be practical as well. How will these lights perform in cold weather? All my interior lights are CFL, but outdoors I've switched half of them back to higher-wattage incandescents than before (because the lower wattage units are not as available now) because once the temperature falls below 55F, CFLs take a very long time to reach full brightness.

            • by PitaBred (632671)

              You should try some different bulbs... I live in the Denver area, and I have a CFL on my porchlight that lights up instantly every time, no matter how cold it is. Different brands can make a lot more difference than they should.

          • It's political not because it saves energy and is good for the environment all around, but because those fuckers on the hill are making sweeping legislation without caring for the poor that can't afford the bulbs. Mass production and R&D funding is providing improvements along with dropping the price, but essentially it was a giant corporate tax to bootstrap their industry. There was absolutely no reason for this transition shock. There was better ways of handling this, but the millionaire politicians d

          • by afidel (530433)

            That divide is also a bunch of BS pushed by the pro-business wing of the GOP, many conservatives have no problem with environmental protection, in fact one of the stalwart conservative groups, the NRA is one of the largest funders of environmental conservation projects on the planet and helped pushed through a voluntary tax on hunting related items that goes to fund federal conservation projects. I'm fairly liberal but I'm also a card carrying NRA member because I believe in both their protection of the sec

            • I don't really think there are very many opposed to conservationism. Conserving energy saves money. What they are opposed to (and this is a libertarian thing, btw) is government telling us what thou shalt do or shalt not do.

              That and of course red tape. There's a thing in rural areas where if you find a squirrel with some strange spots, kill it and bury it before somebody sees it, or else suddenly you'll find that you don't own your property. These same people appreciate wildlife and all that, which is why t

          • The bulb backlash is driven mostly by a political divide. The US is very much a two-faction country, politically - the liberals and the conservatives, represented by their respective political parties. Environmental causes have long been seen as a very liberal thing, so those on the conservative faction feel they are obliged to downplay the issue and oppose any solution.

            Funny enough, environmental causes USED TO BE a conservative position. The EPA, for example, happened on Nixon's watch. Of course, neither Nixon nor Reagan would survive a Republican primary today. Today's US conservative movement might be more accurately called "reactionary", they're so far to the right. A US liberal would be center-right in Europe.

          • by darkmeridian (119044) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:03PM (#42170337) Homepage

            The Democrats in the United States are actually centrists by the standards of most countries. The liberals in America don't have any political power while their far-right counterparts have completely taken over the Republican Party. Look at the "socialist" health care plan passed by the Democrats. The heart of the plan is the very conservative idea of individual responsibilityâ"the individual mandate was a conservative idea until the Democrats embraced it, at which point it suddenly became a socialist plot against Americans. A true liberal would have pushed for a one-payer system.

            And so it goes.

          • Environmental causes have long been seen as a very liberal thing ...

            Not really. The National Park system was vastly expanded by a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt. The Environmental Protection Agency was established by a Republican, Richard Nixon. Hunting organizations, whose members tend to lean right, do far more land conservation than any other type of private organizations.

            Certain environmental causes may seem liberal but that has more to do with a specific cause being politicized by liberals not because conservatives are inherently anti-environment. Regrettably both part

        • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:20AM (#42168983)

          Is issue isn't if the Old People are Right or Wrong, but their reasoning for their decision.

          Often the argument is driven by a nostalgic emotional attachment, and not by any rational measuring of the advantages vs disadvantages.

          A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off, vs. the harsher unleaded gasoline smell. Is a slightly better smell while filling your tank worth having hazardous chemicals in the air, and a residue that can get on your hands that is harmful as well?

          Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition. Does the difference in taste and a minor improvement in nutrition outweigh the serious illnesses you can get from it?

          If you go across hating everything, you can always nitpick and hang onto that one redeeming feature no matter how minor it is. Or you can jump on the bandwagon and say everything that comes out is immediately superior. Or you can just be balanced and actually stop thinking you are an expert in everything, and try it out, and/or read about it from many sources and judge for yourself if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

          I think the milk is a bad analogy. It only affects the person consuming it, unlike low power light bulbs or leaded gasoline. If someone wants to eat something that is potentially hazardous, that's their business.

          • If someone wants to eat something that is potentially hazardous, that's their business.

            I guess we're assuming this someone has no dependents and has full medical, life, and funeral insurance?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off

          I never heard this before, and I'm not buying it. When I started driving all gas was leaded, and it all stank. It's also all toxic, just with one fewer toxin (and fewer mentally retarded kids; that's what lead does).

          The reson that folks bitched about unleaded gas the lower octane, and some older cars (particularly high powered cars) needed to be de-tuned to run unleaded or holes would burn in the pistons (the lower the octa

          • by prefect42 (141309)

            Run that 92 octane leaded gas in your new car and you'll burn out your exhaust valves, because it will still be burning when the valve opens.

            You will, but because of differing flame speeds, not because of the octane rating which is unrelated to flame speed. You can merrily run BP Ultimate 102 RON in a modern engine.

          • Actually on the gasoline you are wrong about the purpose of leaded gasoline and octane. The flame speed in the regular 87 octane pump fule and 100LL avgas is basically the same at the same compression ratio. What higher octane provides is better resistance to detonation or preignition. When there was the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel engines did have to get detuned as they couldn't run as high of compression ratios as they use to because of the preignition problems. Leaded fuel did provide protection
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Well, think of it from his point of view. You wanted to shit INSIDE your house.
        • by kimvette (919543)

          > A lot of people miss leaded gasoline, because they miss the sweeter smell it gave off, vs. the harsher unleaded gasoline smell.

          I have never heard of this. Some people miss it for the protection the lead gives the valves, and others miss it for the higher octane rating required for older high-compression engines.

          > Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition. Does the difference in taste and a minor improvement in nutritio

        • There is a difference in the milk but I would never drink black market milk unpasteurized. Here in Switzerland there are a lot of people that buy there milk directly at the farm and bring it to a boil before consumption. It makes a big difference in taste and consistency to the UHT, PAST and homogenized crap you can buy in the shops. Maybe you need to check some more sources about the milk thing, it is not as black and white as you paint it.
        • by DdJ (10790)

          Or those people who often buy unpasteurized milk on the black market. Because they claim it tastes better and has nutrition. Does the difference in taste and a minor improvement in nutrition outweigh the serious illnesses you can get from it?

          There's actually a good compromise on that one, that I wish more milk producers would take up. Alton Brown has discussed it.

          There's more than one way to do pasteurization. You can do it very briefly at a very high temperature, or much longer at a still-high-enough-but

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 03, 2012 @10:02AM (#42168175) Journal

      The funny thing about florescent tubes is how recently they became 'controversial'. Essentially all the R&D was in place for conventional hot-cathode tubes by the late 30s, and they were owning the commercial, industrial, and other cost-sensitive bulk sectors. And these were the good shit: Mercury, beryllium, the kind of stuff that wasn't good for you even in the '50s, back when smoking and liquid lunches were doctor-approved...

      Once they became symbols of tyrannical envirofascist totalitarianism, though, you'd have thought that they'd started filling the things with nerve gas.(Amusingly, the bulk commercial/institutional users still don't give a fuck. Just stay after hours at any giant cube farm or similar and you'll see the janitors shoving around garbage cans full of old tubes, half of them broken, without the slightest concern...)

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        knowledge and available alternatives (or the possibility thereof) change opinions.

        As for the commercial/institutional users - they tend to shave every penny they can, regardless of the health and safety of their employees, so how's that say anything other than "it's cheap and not illegal, or enforced to the point where the illegality matters"?

      • What are you talking about? People have hated florescent bulbs for as long as I can remember. The reasons varied, but for the most part people hated them.
      • It's more than the symbolism. A few things here:

        * At least for some people, the CFLs are noticeably worse than the old tubes. Don't know why, but my husband gets headaches really quickly (we're talking about 2 minutes or so) under CFLs, but only finds the big ceiling lights to be sort of annoying (unless the ceiling lights are flickering, those are terrible).
        * One could avoid CFLs before, by not buying them for the home, and mostly only going out to restaurants and such that used incandescent bu
    • CFL's suck, they are only more efficient than an Incandescent lamp, which is a fairly easy mark to hit. LED's, though more pleasant to use, are marginally more efficient than CFL's, but not as efficient as a standard T8 florescent lamp (100 Lumens per Watt). Polymer based Electro Luminescence is not new; I am very interested in this efficiency they are talking about (which is painfully missing in the article, 5x more than what????)
    • Hold on lads I've got an idea :)
    • by art6217 (757847)

      Pehaps they'll miss the unnatural yellow tint CFLs give, to save on the inefficient red phospor (some of the CFLs with the best light are B on the efficiency scale, because they contain balanced amounts of yellow and red).

      More seriously, traditional bulbs give off warmth, which some people understandably like, especially in colder climates. And modern halogens are C on the efficiency scale, not bad given their sun--like light. The trick is to use a special glass cover that returns some of the infra--red ba

    • by kimvette (919543)

      If they're free of flicker and buzzing, are instant-on even below 55F, don't cost >$20 each, and are dimmable, I can't see anyone complaining.

      The big problem with banning incandescents is that in uninsulated basements, garages, and directly outdoors, CFLs are utterly worthless during the winter unless you plan on keeping the lights on 24/7 to maintain operating temperature - which completely defeats the purpose of high efficiency lighting.

      • by kimvette (919543)

        Oh and one more thing: if they can cover the full color spectrum for proper color rendition and come in an actual white rather than "daylight" that makes everybody look ill or fugly yellow "soft white", they will be better than both CFL and LED lamps as well as incandescent for indoor purposes as well. :-)

    • by asm2750 (1124425)
      I for one will be happy when the old angry people born before 1980 are dead.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        I for one will be happy when the old angry people born before 1980 are dead.

        Get off my lawn!

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Right, because what angry old person doesn't want to see mercury buildup in our landfills?

      Us angry old people have been hoarding incandescents until CFLs are replaced with something more reasonable. As it's not clear yet that LEDs are that replacement, it's good to see new emerging technologies.

      Even old people set in their ways want to see CFLs go away. No mystery there.

  • Wow, these must be cheap and simplistic if they ended the article with an actual intended release date! That's something you never, ever, ever see with solar panels, magical vehicle engines, and quantum computers. Definitely not....exceeding 90% likely to be vaporware lol.
  • In fact I'm still using kerosene lamps 'cause I didn't put no trust in that 'lectric light bulb. Now I can jump right past the incandescent era, the cfl era and even the led bulb and have my new house made of glowing plastic embedded with nano particles.

    All kidding aside this opens up the possibilities of building this into products in new and innovative ways...

  • An expensive conducting polymer loaded onto glass coated with ITO which "points the way" toward a usable device is nowhere near the vision articulated in the summary.

  • The coolest thing is that these things are from 2013; the developer reached into the future and brought some cool tech back in time.

  • by Artemis3 (85734) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:00AM (#42168769)

    This is no longer needed. Some countries are phasing out even CFLs in favor of LEDs, for example China by 2016 won't allow sale of units over 15w. LEDs are already "shatter proof" and they don't carry any gases inside ("solid state").

    China will ban imports and sales of certain incandescent light bulbs starting October 2012 to encourage the use of alternative lighting sources such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), with a 5-year plan of phasing-out incandescent light bulbs over 100 watts starting October 1, 2012, and gradually extend the ban to those over 15 watts on October 1, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/05/us-china-light-bulbs-idUSTRE7A40MV20111105 [reuters.com]

    I have a couple of 10w (4x 2.5w pcs) LED flood lamps, they are too strong for direct lightning but pointing them up allows the light to reflect and diffuse back down nicely. They come up instantly and there is no flickering. Unfortunately they get a little too hot at the base because of the AC/DC transformer, thankfully i'm not enclosing them but overheating could be a problem for others. Perhaps we should adopt some form of DC power distribution inside the house to keep away this conversion from the lamps (and so many devices use DC anyway).

    Have you seen white LED street lamps? I have, and they work perfectly. They are also instant (instead of minutes) and the light lets you see many more colors at night. They are about 80w to 100w, instead of the usual 250w, and happen to last 10x more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      LED lights are still pretty pricy, so if this technology can bring the cost of the lamps back down towards what incandescents cost, there's a use for it. Also, if it's actually "white-emitting" that will be a big improvement since CFLs ain't. Doubt it though.

      Have you seen white LED street lamps? I have, and they work perfectly

      I've seen a lot of partially-failed LED street lamps, which is how I know that the technology hasn't really been refined yet.

      • by hawkfish (8978)

        I've seen a lot of partially-failed LED street lamps, which is how I know that the technology hasn't really been refined yet.

        I've never seen a partially failed incandescent ;-)

    • by snadrus (930168)
      There have been long Slashdot discussions on DC. If I remember right, DC loses more power than AC on wire runs & has a higher shock risk. USB3 offers a good low-watt (4.5W max) DC power spec with power-saving modes. It requires "intelligent" devices to plug-in to request the power, which shouldn't be a problem nowadays.
  • by Mal-2 (675116) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:06AM (#42168831) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me a light source that is inherently flat would be ideal for a display backlight. It probably won't make them much thinner than they already are, but it could make them less complex to produce and possibly more repairable (by replacing aged backlights).

    Also, being able to attach these directly to walls and ceilings rather than mounting brackets or cutting holes for lamps would allow a wider placement of light sources than is currently practical. I'd probably have (at least) one on every wall plus some on the ceiling, to make sure that I could get an ideal spread of light sources for whatever work I might be doing.

  • You mean they actually came out with better light bulbs? I thought government regulation of light bulbs was going to destroy the industry and cause untold damage! You'd have thunk!

  • Lumens per watt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Monday December 03, 2012 @11:49AM (#42169373) Homepage

    A "normal" A19 soft white bulb is about 14.5 Lumens per Watt.
    A typical CFL is around 55 Lumens per Watt
    A good LED bulb is around 90 Lumens per Watt (and they're getting better)

    Fipel bulbs are "Highly Efficient".
    Anyone have an idea what that is in Lumens per Watt?

  • by Covalent (1001277) on Monday December 03, 2012 @01:44PM (#42170833)
    ...the plastic uses iridium. That's expensive stuff, even if used in incredibly small quantities:

    http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/iridium/ [infomine.com]

    Currently over $1,000 an ounce.
  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:08PM (#42171067) Homepage Journal

    Imagine, the sort of panel lighting you see all the time in sci fi. If they can approximate black body spectrum of an incandescent, this would be amazing. I'd line the bottoms of shelves, and install panels on the ceilings and walls, under the edges of steps, under cupboards, even inside cupboards and closets and have light exactly where I need it. It seems that if this works, you can have light panels you can actually cut to size, which would allow for really creative, ultra-modern lighting installations. I would also install panels on the back of my televisions and monitors to provide ambient backlighting to increase the apparent contrast while watching movies.

    • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 03, 2012 @02:43PM (#42171485) Homepage

      Imagine, the sort of panel lighting you see all the time in sci fi.

      It's been available since the 1960s. Electroluminescent sheets have been around for over 40 years. They're on the expensive side and light output per unit area is low, but they work fine. Some versions last for decades. (Some don't, which is a big problem for permanent installation.) They make good night lights and somewhat dim display backlights.

      Here's a A3 sized white electroluminescent sheet. [e-luminates.com] About 12" x 17", costs $125.

      So this is not a new thing. If the new version is a lot brighter or a lot cheaper, it might be useful. For now, it's another "nanotechnology" materials science article about an interesting lab phenomenon.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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