Canada Research Chair develops more efficient, affordable lighting

Pavle Radovanovic, Canada Research Chair in Spectroscopy of Nanoscale Materials at the University of Waterloo, is developing a new cost-effective light bulb that could revolutionize energy-efficient lighting.

The research team, led by Radonanovic, developed the “holy grail” of light bulbs through a process that combines energy-absorbing nanocrystals—tiny structures produced by reacting chemicals in solutions or on various surfaces—with organic dye molecules to create pure white light which can then be tuned to emit any colour of light in the spectrum.

Twenty per cent of global electricity consumption is used simply to light homes, commercial offices and public buildings. That’s why traditional incandescent light bulbs, which have been the main source of illumination in homes and offices for decades, are being replaced by more energy-efficient illumination materials and devices, such as LED bulbs.

LED lighting, while energy-efficient, is expensive to produce and relies on rare earth materials to make the naturally blue or red LEDs emit white light. Radovanovic’s innovative development is capable of emitting white light at a fraction of the cost.

Radovanovic said the transparent nanocrystals also have potential for use in applications. For example, a liquid solution of the nano-particles could be applied to windows in order to control light levels, brightening a room at night.

“We are coming closer to actually being able to produce white light for any given environment,” says Radovanovic, a member of the University’s Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

According to the University of Waterloo, the team is in talks with a venture capital firm and may soon launch a start-up company to develop and market the technology.