It is time to say goodbye to the incandescent bulbs that have lit up our homes and other living spaces since the 1800s. Although there is no official word on it, the market defines that more efficient and effective light bulbs are on their way in; of which, LED bulbs are the more preferred ones. The traditional incandescent bulbs have been off the US market since 2012. The reason for this is that these bulbs consume more energy in dissipating heat that in lighting up the space they are meant to.
With price concerns hovering over the LED bulbs, CFL have or compact fluorescent lights have made merry in the market in the recent years. However, CFL’s also have their own set of problems. It has been found that they sometimes emit an unpleasant colour that causes headaches in many people. It also has a disposal issue since it contains mercury which is a toxic element.
Though LED’s have been omnipresent for many years, making their way into applications like Christmas lights, traffic lights, mobile phones, camera flashes, flashlights and many other small uses, a technical challenge failed to bring it into the mainstream lighting which follows an age old design. However, the breakthrough has been imminent and was achieved only very recently.
LED lighting technology is near perfect with no toxins, heat emissions or unpleasant colours, Still, not many households or commercial spaces have adopted this amazing and energy efficient technology. It seems however that LED bulbs are still a long way from achieving commercial success and widespread usage. Let us look into the concerns and the changes needed to take them into mainline lighting instead being just bedside lamps.
LEDs have waited for long to take over domestic lighting. This is the forecast from scientific forums and big manufacturers like Philips, who are focussing their R&D into LEDs. Even GE, that has allocated over 50% of the research budget to sold state lighting technologies.
The technology on LED is evolving at great pace and recent breakthroughs suggest that their prices can be cut down substantially while improving the longevity. The design factors that were inhibiting the progress prior to 2012 were light-loss issues for which two breakthroughs have been achieved:
1. Light emitted by LEDs does not permeate the casing designs completely resulting in lumen losses. So, the answer to this could be to have microscopic holes put into the casing. This process is expensive and time taking. The breakthrough on this aspect has been achieved by researchers from University of Glasgow, Scotland. Their inference suggests that using a new and unique nano-imprint lithography technique can achieve this objective quickly and reduce expenses.
2. Another team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, England took it upon them to get the LEDs emit more light so that the light-loss issue is compensated. They created an entirely new process to create the gallium-nitride semiconductor material which is the basis of LED lighting. Today, this material is grown on sapphire wafers which are highly expensive. The new method uses silicon wafers in place of sapphire wafers that reduce the cost drastically.
The bulbs manufactured on the gallium-nitride-based technology have 3 times more life than the best CFL bulbs in the market and also less expensive compared to the older LED bulbs. These bulbs have been on the international market for the last 3 years and owing to their efficiency and usability, they have seen a bigger market share since.
Price has always been the critical cog in the wheel for the LED lighting market and it is foreseen that prices will plummet further as demand improves.