A Low-Cost White Light that Imitates Sunlight Emerges

New variations in light technology are emerging consistently as the focus on energy preservation and maximum illumination move to the forefront of our digital world. Even as these varied techniques materialize, there will always be a requirement for new technology to be evaluated against high photometric standards. LEDs have evolved over decades to become more precise with cost, quality, and capability. Although, there could always be challenges on the horizon of light production.

One original approach appeared recently out of the University of Turku in Finland, as researchers have discovered the use of a material to make a wide-spectrum natural white light. Using a “natural hackmanite material,” the team at the Inorganic Materials Chemistry Group, was able to create an illumination that is remarkably similar in spectrum quality to sunlight.

The hackmanite material is different in chemical composition from lanthanides, which is what we currently use in nearly all LEDs. Lanthanides have two specific things working against them. The first is that they can be generally expensive when compared to the radically inexpensive hackmanite substance, and secondly, they do not create broad spectrum light capabilities at the same level.

Another massive benefit of using hackmanite is the afterglow effect that is a near replicate of the sun. This can be difficult to produce in LEDs, but researchers in Finland found that the luminance levels were tremendous when using the new material. As Mika Lastusaari, one of the head researchers from the University of Turku put it: “Our hackmanite material can produce observable white persistent luminescence for seven hours in the dark. With a spectrometer, the luminescence can be detected for more than 100 hours.”

This light technology has the potential to have an array of applications, as afterglow illuminations are used in many types of signs, particularly those for emergencies. Lastusaari noted that having the ability to stay lit through long-term power outages was a stand-out byproduct of this material’s use in lighting.
How hackmanite is used in lighting fixtures of the future, and whether it will be integrated with existing LED techniques, depends entirely on the testing done with highly accurate photometric standards. But the future does seem to be open, and as materials show new avenues for light production, we can expect innovative lighting solutions from the scientific community.

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