Bright Idea: Incandescent Lights Reinvented as Eco-Friendly
Older incandescent light bulbs have been phased out in many countries because they waste huge amounts of energy as heat, but scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have reported in Nature Nanotechnology that they are finding a way to recycle the waste energy and focus it back onto the filament, where it’s re-emitted as visible light. Their innovative structure is made from thin, stacked layers of a type of light-controlling crystal that allows visible wavelengths to pass through while reflecting infrared back to the filament as if striking a mirror.
Traditional bulbs are banned in the European Union and Canada, and their manufacture and importation are being phased out in the U.S. They’ve been replaced by more expensive compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which are significantly more efficient. In theory, the crystal structures could boost the efficiency of incandescent bulbs to 40 percent, making them three times more efficient than the best available LED and CFL bulbs.
This article appears in the October 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings.