Imagine lighting your home or business with a paper-thin lighting device that comes off a roll and is similar to wallpaper. It would be flexible enough to be wrapped around columns or other curved surfaces, introducing a whole new realm of lighting design possibilities. GE Global Research, GE's centralized research organization, recently broke two world records while taking a giant step toward making this type of lighting a reality.
Marking a major breakthrough involving Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) - thin sheets of plastic-like material that emit light when powered by electricity - the GRC created a 24-inch x 24-inch panel which produces 1,200 lumens of light with an efficacy of 15 lumens per watt. Those levels are on par with today's 60-watt incandescent bulb.
This lighting device breaks previous records in the areas of size and efficiency, demonstrating that the light quality, output and efficiency of OLED technology can meet the needs of general illumination. "We are extremely excited about accomplishing a task that many thought would be impossible," said Anil Duggal, manager of GE's light energy conversion program. "This is definitely a significant milestone in turning an abstract idea into a viable product."
During the three-year project, which was cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Program (DOE/BT) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, GE's scientists have been able to increase the efficiency of illumination-quality OLEDs by a factor of four, as well as increase the light output by a factor of 600. The program will continue to sponsor research at GE to improve the device even more and make cost-effective manufacturing more feasible.
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