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Energy Efficiency

New Energy-Saving Incandescent Light Bulb

Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb is not the most energy efficient of light bulbs, but new research may manage to alter that.

For years now we have been urged by governments and energy efficiency proponents to change to LED bulbs, moving away from the old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs which have barely seen a modification since they were invented by Thomas Edison in the late-1800s. However, new research published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology boasts the ability to improve the efficiency of the incandescent light bulb.

sn-light_0That may mean that the warm white light that we all prefer and grew used to growing up might now be a genuine option to those of us who also want to cut down on our energy use.

The research was written about in a recent article published in Science, which outlines the history of the project and the research itself.

Specifically, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, led by physicists Ognjen Ilic, Marin Soljačić, and John Joannopoulos, set out to boost the energy efficiency of incandescent light bulbs with the help of an “intricately structured material” they are calling photonic crystal.

The researchers were able to increase the efficiency of the incandescent light bulb to 6.6%, triple that of conventional light bulbs, though still at the lower end of efficiency ratings when compared to other light bulbs on the market: compact fluorescent light bulbs have efficiency ratings between 7% and 13%, while LEDs manage between 5% and 15%.

“I think they can do even better than this,” says Alejandro Rodriguez, an electrical engineer and photonic crystal expert at Princeton University, who added his own insights into how the MIT researchers could go about improvements.

Image Credit: “A new type of incandescent light bulb recycles infrared photons converting them to visible light” via O. Ilic et al./MIT

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