Rise of the wonder bulb
However, the stakes have once again been raised with the announcement of the new dimmable LED, containing a filament coated in Graphene, due for release in the coming months. Graphene demonstrates the ability to build materials with designer properties that are propelling us forward into a new age of technological advancement. This new wonder bulb marks the first commercial application of this incredible material.
Graphene LED Lighting Technology
Graphene is a crystallised state of carbon where the atoms are arranged in a hexagonal lattice to form a one-atom thick layer of graphite. It is essentially only a surface; the thinnest known material, defying every other material that by nature exists in three dimensions. It is thin, light, durable and transparent – 1m square would weigh 0.77mg, but with the ability to support a weight of more than 4kg. The mesh property allows it to still be flexible and it only absorbs 2 percent of light, making it invisible to the naked eye.
According to the bulb’s creators, Canadian based company Graphene Lighting, the hybrid innovation will reduce energy consumption by 10 percent to that of a conventional LED light. It will also reportedly have a 25 year life span and, even more surprising, will cost less than £15. A study from researchers in South Korea and Vietnam revealed that part of the success of the bulb is due to it not having self-heating issues, since graphene has the ability to reduce thermal boundary resistance by spreading heat. This means that the LED bulb will be able to dissipate extra heat as it increases in brightness.
Professor of theoretical physics at Chalmers University of Technology, Mikael Fogelstrom, points out that the ‘super properties’ of Graphene were explored by theoreticians in the 1940s. However it was not isolated in a lab until 2004, in Manchester University, which provided proof for all its predicted potential. It took only 6 years until Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010. By comparison, the Nobel for the discovery of the blue LED in 1994 was not received until last year. Usually the Nobel is awarded after the implications or viability of the discovery have panned out, so to speak. And even though up until now Graphene has only undergone testing in the lab environment, it shows remarkable potential.
The material shows so much promise that Manchester University has since established a dedicated department called the National Graphene Institute (NGI). It encompasses around 200 researchers and is even supported by the UK government, with a £38 million investment into the endeavour to study future applications of Graphene.
The clearest potential for Graphene currently is in the world of electronics where its ability to store charge may come in handy. This would have implications on the world of battery technology, flexible touch screens, Graphene composite fabric that could be made into clothes that would carry charge, as well as lighter and stronger frames in planes and cars. Additionally, it is also showing potential in the field of medicine, as a mechanism to deliver drugs targeted to specific cells in the body. The applications seem only limited by our imagination. We may very well be on verge of a material revolution that has only just begun with the advancement of the LED bulb. Bring on the coming age of Graphene.
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