Lighting up the new year with unbreakable bulbs

Wednesday, 16 January, 2013

Scientists at Wake Forest University have made a new kind of light from mouldable plastic, which can glow in any colour, won’t shatter and won’t leave you with the problem of searching for the one bad bulb on a strand of dozens.

“These lights are nearly indestructible and last an incredibly long time,” said David Carroll, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest where the new lighting technology was developed. “I’ve had one going in the lab for 11 years. Plus, you could puncture just one bulb and the whole strand would still light.”

Unlike traditional incandescent light bulbs that use filaments and gases to create light, Carroll’s lights are made of three layers of moulded plastic that basically glow when turned on.

They aren’t hollow, so they can’t shatter and create a hazard on the floor. They are also at least twice as efficient as the new compact fluorescent bulbs - so the lighting display ends up being a little more affordable and environmentally responsible.

The technical term for this new product is field-induced polymer electroluminescent device, or FIPEL. Wake Forest has licensed its patents to a company that plans to offer FIPEL lights for commercial use in 2013, with additional uses to follow.

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