A group of MIT scientists have a had a lightbulb moment concerning the humble incandescent bulb. They’ve figured out that, by trapping its glowing filament inside a special, infrared-reflecting structure, they can make it dramatically more energy-efficient. Their work could eventually see the incandescent bulb make a European Union return, where they’ve been banned and replaced by more expensive and efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs.
The vast majority of the energy used up by incandescent lightbulbs is emitted as heat, with only around 2-3 per cent of the energy they use actually converted into light. In contrast, this figure is around the 13 per cent mark with CFL and LED bulbs. The MIT group, however, has created a proof-of-concept incandescent bulb which reach an efficiency of 6.6%.
Key to the bulb’s potential change in fortunes is a structure made up of specially-stacked layers a type of light-controlling crystal. It reflects infrared radiation back to the filament, where it is re-emitted as visible light. Next step: create a party rave lighting option. [BBC]
Image: Mikkel Ronne via Flickr