Scientists at the University of Strathclyde are developing technology that could dramatically cut the world's energy consumption - by enabling the mass production of super energy-efficient light bulbs.
Ultra Violet Light Emitting Diodes (UV LEDs) have the potential to change the way we live and have a variety of uses - from sterilising food, water and packaging, to providing a new, durable and efficient alternative to the household light bulb.
But until now the casing which protects UV LEDs and directs and refracts the light, has been too expensive and inefficient for mass production.
Now Strathclyde scientists are working on a solution to the problem - an inexpensive, mouldable polymer that could allow the technology to come into every day use.
Simon Andrews, Business Development Manager for the Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde, said: "Traditional LEDs are the unsung heroes of the technological world with more than 500 million produced each month. They illuminate your mobile phone, transmit information from remote controls, tell you when your appliances are switched on, and have a whole host of other uses.
"The UV version is the LED's more powerful cousin, and it has huge and exciting potential. We hope that by producing an encapsulant that lets more light out, we can help 'unlock' the technology and allow further developments for mass use, from super energy efficient lighting to help reduce our carbon footprints; to communication waves which can be used even in built up areas."
The latest UV LED lighting prototypes are already around 10 times more energy efficient than traditional tungsten bulbs, bringing huge cost savings and reducing damage to the environment. LEDs are also more compact, they produce less heat and can last many times longer than normal lightbulbs.
The research is being led by Professors Richard Pethrick and Martin Dawson at the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of photonics, both based at Strathclyde. It has been funded by Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept fund.
12 December 2006