How FIPEL Bulbs Work

Why FIPEL Lights May Be the Future

Researchers say that FIPEL lights can be manufactured to produce just about any color of visible light in the solar spectrum. As Carroll told the BBC, FIPEL lights are vastly superior in that regard to CFLs. "[CFLs] have a bluish, harsh tint to them," Carroll explained. "It is not really accommodating to the human eye; people complain of headaches and the reason is the spectral content of that light doesn't match the Sun -- our device can match the solar spectrum perfectly.

"We are brighter than one of these curlicue bulbs and I can give you any tint to that white light that you want," Carroll added [source: McGrath].

Additionally, because they're made of plastic, FIPEL lights can be molded into a wide variety of shapes -- from bulbs that fit into the old sockets designed for incandescent bulbs to large sheets or panels that could fit into the spaces above ceiling tiles and behind walls, so that a soft, unobtrusive light can be evenly spread throughout a room [source: Dillow].

As for cost, a management consultant for CeeLite said the manufactured FIPEL bulbs should cost less than LEDs but a little more than CFLs [source: Spector].

One critic questioned whether in fact FIPEL was actually a breakthrough, since warm white LEDs are already available (without the bluish tint) and CFLs have only a minuscule amount of mercury, too little to be much of an environmental hazard [source: Holloway]. But most of the reaction has been positive. The Web site Engadget, for example, called FIPEL the "super-bulb" [source: Cooper].

Author's Note: How FIPEL Bulbs Work

Fluorescent light has a lot of strange associations for me. When I was a boy in the 1960s, I used to spend a lot of time in the pet department of Woolworth's five-and-ten store, admiring the colorful tropical fish and the variety of turtles, chameleons and other tiny reptilian creatures that spent their brief lives in tiny glass terrariums, surrounded by plastic plants and bathed in eerie, flickering fluorescent light. Years later, when I worked in a windowless corner of a newspaper office, I spent long days and nights bathed in the same sort of unnatural glow by the humming, flickering ceiling lights. I finally realized how those reptiles felt.

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  • Adams, Cecil. "Why Do Fluorescent Lights Buzz?" July 22, 2003. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Brown, Sam. "Light Up." Popular Mechanics. July 1947. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Cooper, Daniel. "Scientists build 'super-bulb' out of plastic, it's (apparently) fantastic." Dec. 3, 2012. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Dillow, Clay. "New Lighting Could Replace Fluorescents, CFLs, and LEDs As The Light Source Of The Future." Dec. 3, 2013. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Dugdale, Addy. "The Fipel, A Major Plastic Light Bulb Breakthrough, Darkens Fluorescent's Future." Dec. 3, 2012. (Feb. 3, 2013)
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  • Holloway, James. "FIPEL wonder-light: Where are the numbers?" ArsTechnica. Dec. 11, 2012. (Feb. 5, 2012)
  • McGrath, Matt. "Plastic bulb development promises better quality light." BBC News. Dec. 3, 2012. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Neal, Katie. "Taking the buzz out of office lights." Dec. 3, 2012. (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Physics 24/7. "What Are Torque Sensors." (Feb. 3, 2013)
  • Spector, Dina. "Professor Invents The Best New Lightbulb In 30 Years." Business Insider. Jan. 22, 2013. (Feb. 11, 2013).

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