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A light-bulb moment: MIT makes incandescent bulbs more efficient than LEDs

Published at: 15 March 2018

Ever since governments started restricting the sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs, homeowners have been complaining about the shortcomings of their energy-efficient replacements, such as frustrating time delays and the clinical white beams of LEDs. Researchers at MIT, however, believe they have come up with a sustainable solution which could see the return of incandescent bulbs.

By surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, it can bounce back the energy usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through.

This technique is referred to as ‘recycling light’, as the energy which would usually escape is redirected back to the filament where it can generate new light.

Traditional light bulbs are usually only about 5% efficient, with 95% of energy being lost to the atmosphere. LED or fluorescent bulbs, on the other hand, are about 14% efficient. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40%. It also shows colours far more naturally than modern energy-efficient bulbs.

"This experimental device is a proof-of-concept, at the low end of performance that could be ultimately achieved by this approach," said principal research scientist Ivan Celanovic. "An important feature is that our demonstrated device achieves near-ideal rendering of colours. That is precisely the reason why incandescent lights remained dominant for so long: their warm light has remained preferable to drab fluorescent lighting for decades.”

Read The Telegraph’s full article on this innovation here.

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