Not too far in the future, spray-on energy efficient LED lighting will be applied to paper, plastic or perhaps fabric and other surfaces as well. That could cause more than a little excitement among architects and interior designers in terms of the new aesthetic range. When combined with spray-on batteries and spray-on solar cells the implications for sustainable design are even more exciting.
Like a Chia Pet, with LEDs
Researchers Magnus Willander, Gul Amin and Naved ul Hassan of Linköping University in Sweden have demonstrated that it is possible to “grow” white LEDs directly on paper through a series of paint-on or spray-on steps.
The process involves first coating the paper with a thin layer of a resin called cyclotene, which repels water and creates a smoother surface. Then a layer of a conductive polymer (aka plastic) called polydiethylflourene is applied.
The light source itself consists of nanostructures of zinc oxide, which Amin has also demonstrated can be grown in the form of nanothreads on paper. When blown off the paper with ultrasound, the nanothreads form a powder than can be used in conventional printing presses.
Freestyle, High Efficiency Lighting
Put those together with spray-on LEDs, and you’ve got a killer combination of high efficiency lighting with renewable energy harvesting and energy storage capabilities, which could be applied to any number of smooth surfaces, whether rigid or flexible, flat or curved.
That offers two kinds of potentials for energy conservation. First is the inherent savings of using a high-efficiency lighting source combined with renewable energy harvesting and “smart grid” energy storage.
There are also a number of secondary impacts. The carbon footprint of manufacturing spray-on lighting could be reduced significantly compared to manufacturing bulbs or other devices, since it relies on a chemical process rather than conventional fabrication.
Additional savings result from integrating the light source, solar cell and battery into building materials and design elements, rather than manufacturing separate fixtures.
The elimination of separate lighting fixtures could also result in a more energy efficient building overall, by providing for a more efficient use of interior spaces.
Follow on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.