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New LED lamp receives first commercial application for wonder material

LED bulb newsLamps made using ultra conductive graphene-coated LED filaments should last longer than conventional LED bulbs and be still more energy efficient into the bargain. And they could go on sale at a competitive price later this year.

This highly innovative design of lamp, from Canadian-financed UK startup firm Graphene Lighting, 'is expected to perform significantly better and last longer than conventional LED bulbs,' according to a press release from the University of Manchester where it is being developed.

This is progress indeed, relating the new lamp to ‘conventional LEDs’, bearing in mind that we’ve only just got used to LEDs themselves being the new ‘wonder lighting’.

The new dimmable lamp contains a filament-shaped LED coated in graphene, which is a recently discovered wonder material. Graphene is a sheet of carbon a mere one atom thick, having huge strength (200 times stronger than steel weight for weight). It is also a million times thinner than a human hair, and boasts conductivity 100 times better than today's silicon-based semiconductors.

This material, therefore, is set to revolutionise electronics, medicine, transport and many other areas – it’s really only limited by imagination.

Graphene Lighting coats a lamp's LED chips with graphene for greater heat removal, which results – it is claimed - in lower energy emissions, a longer lifetime, around 10% lower energy consumption and lower manufacturing costs. Moreover, the new lamp’s components are said to be more sustainable.

It is expected that these new lamps will be priced lower than some LED bulbs, which can cost about £15 each.

An early application for graphene

This lamp is one of the earliest commercial applications for graphene to emerge from the UK’s £61 million National Graphene Institute (NGI), which was opened in Manchester recently by Chancellor, George Osborne. Other early applications include graphene being incorporated into products such as tennis rackets and skis.

Graphene is tricky to manufacture in large quantities, yet is likely to lead to lighter and more efficient forms of transport (including aircraft), as well as - in the shorter term - to slimmer, lighter, tougher and more efficient smartphones, laptops, plus wearables such as smartwatches. Such devices could also be recharged much faster than they can at present. False teeth, believe it or not, is another potential use for this ‘wonder material’.

More about graphene

Graphene – effectively single sheets of graphite one atom thick - is an allotrope of carbon in the form of a two-dimensional, atomic-scale, hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex. It is the basic structural element of graphite, charcoal, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes.

Graphene has many extraordinary properties. It is about 100 times stronger than steel by weight, conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency and is nearly transparent. In addition, researchers have identified the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic transport of charges and large quantum oscillations in the material (source Wikipedia).

The global market for graphene is reported to have reached around £6m by 2014, with most sales being in the semiconductor, electronics, battery energy and composites industries. The market for the material will surely increase hugely.

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