While LED lighting innovations have been dominating the news this year, promising more energy efficient bulbs without all the mercury, a new solid state technology called LiFi has appeared on the scene and will be lighting up street lamps in the near future. Last month, the Luxim Corportion, innovator of the LiFi bulb, announced that they will be shipping light assemblies for urban and commercial use next year (PDF).

The company made waves this year with its demonstration of a tiny bulb, the size of a pill, which produces an astonishing 140 lumens per watt. Compare that to typical incandescent light bulb at 15 lumens per watt.  A CFL bulb or a single LED diode are about 1/2 as bright (at about 70 lumens per watt). And more importantly, it solves a major problem with both LED's and CFL's by providing a very natural looking light with a color rendering index of 91.  And one tiny bulb can handle 30,000+ lumens, an achievement that far outshines even the most powerful LED bulb.


The bulb contains both argon gas and microscopic metal halide materials.  There are no wires or direct electrical connections.  The tiny bulb sits in a "puck" which is essentially a container for a high-intensity electric field.  A radio-frequency signal is generated by an amplifier which creates the high-powered field and and ionizes the gas, creating plasma. The plasma then joins with the halides which are vaporized at 6000 degrees calvin, replicating the surface of the sun, which explains why the spectrum is so similar in color to natural daylight.   

The other advantages...the new LiFi bulb has an estimated life of 20,000 hours.  It has a dimming range of 20%-100% and because of the distribution of light far less power is needed in architectural applications.  The result, according to Luxim is about 40% energy savings for a comparable light source.

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