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January 27, 2006

End Of The Edison Era?

"Quantum dots", a new source of lighting

How many graduate students does it take to change a light bulb? Just two if they're bright enough--to change it for something else as maybe the future's primary means of lighting.

Michael Bowers, a grad student at Vanderbilt University, was working with "quantum dots," which are tiny crystals typically a few nanometers in size and containing anywhere from 100 to ,1000 electrons, when he accidentally discovered how to stimulate them into emitting bright white light. Then he and another student had the idea of stirring them into polyurethane and using the mix to coat an LED solid-state light--the kind used in traffic lights and for architectural lighting. LEDs produce about twice the light of a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb and last 50 times longer, and use far less energy, but until now their use has been limited to applications involving just a few colors. LEDs are expected eventually to replace incandescent, fluorescent, and sodium vapor lamps. Light would not necessarily come from just some new kind of bulb substitute. Quantum dot mixtures could be painted onto just about anything. Article on livescience.com at www.livescience.com/technology/051021_nano_light.html.

 
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