When is a light bulb not a light bulb? When it emits natural light.
That might sound like an oxymoron, a natural-light bulb. But it is a reality, according to a recent report in the journal of Nature.
The key is organic light that comes spilling forth from a new diode, appropriately named an OLED (organic light-emitting diode). It doesn’t get hot, as do today’s incandescent bulbs, so it is more energy efficient. It can also be produced in super-thin sizes, making true ceiling lighting possible.
Carbon-based polymers, already the stuff of mobile phone displays, are the key. Scientists have stacked up enough of them while still keeping the resulting product razor thin. The plastics are covered with microscopic coatings of blue, green, and red dyes. Shoot an electric current through the thing, and you have white light.
The only remaining obstacle to all of these outlandish-sounding lights, scientists say, is the sensitivity to moisture that such diodes still exhibit. The researchers are confident that they can solve that problem eventually.