If you think that some of the light bulbs stocked by Easy Light Bulbs are a little on the thin side, you may be interested to know about a new type of bulb – one that is as thin as a sheet of paper, yet stronger than any other material on Earth. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction movies, but that hasn’t stopped a group of scientists creating it.
Admittedly, we don’t have it in stock here at Easy Light Bulbs just yet – and you may have a few years to wait. The light bulb in question was developed by scientists from Columbia University, Seoul National University and the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, and is made from graphene, which – despite being as thin as an atom – is also regarded as the strongest material on the planet.
The scientists combined the very recent idea of making a light bulb from graphene with the infinitely more traditional one of mimicking the way the glowing filament works in traditional incandescent light bulbs – albeit, on a microscopic scale. Electrical currents are put through strips of graphene that have been connected to metal electrodes and suspended over the substrate. The resultant heating up of the graphene produces light.
The light that is produced isn’t microscopic, though – indeed, it is visible to the naked eye when the graphene is heated to 4,532 degrees Fahrenheit (2,500 degrees Celsius), which is about on a par with the temperature required for an incandescent light bulb filament. However, with graphene proving an ineffective heat conductor at such temperatures, the heat did have to be concentrated in a small part of the material. Varying the distance separating the filament from the substrate also changes the colour of the light.
Team leader and Columbia research scientist Young Duck Kim said that it was four years ago when he discovered graphene’s light-emitting properties, a surprising finding among others who had not imagined that graphene would be able to produce light, given that unlike an LED, it is not a semiconductor.
Kim added that we may only have to wait two or three years for graphene to begin to be attached to windows or walls for use as a light, and that within about five years, it may be used for the manufacture of transparent displays. These are intriguing possibilities for sure, and here at Easy Light Bulbs, we await with interest whether graphene could just be the future of light bulbs.