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Brighter Bulbs

LEDs



What do you get when you cross folk art with photonic technology? A very bright idea.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have combined cell phone displays and the craft of punched tin to create a new light bulb that could hit living rooms within three years.

LEDs, or "light-emitting diodes" are the lights behind computer screens and cell phones: small, energy efficient -- but weak. That's due to their structure and material, which trap light the way thick lampshades darken a room.

It's that analogy that got the researchers thinking. Taking a cue from the decorative art form of punched tin lanterns, they made more light escape from LEDs by, literally, poking them full of holes! Using a 21st Century version of lithograph printing they stamped billions of molecule-sized openings onto LED surfaces -- increasing brightness without increasing energy consumption. A low cost technique that can be mass-produced.

It could mean a greener, brighter bulb on the market in the future. LEDs run more efficiently than compact fluorescent light bulbs, which in turn are 70 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. That could make LEDs the bulbs that the others can't hold a candle to.

Script by Gail Davis

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