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A Super-Efficient Light Bulb 468

Chroniton writes with news of a Silicon Valley company, Luxim, that has developed a tiny, full-spectrum light bulb, based on a plasma of argon gas, that gives off as much light as a streetlight while using less power. The Tic Tac-sized bulb operates at temperatures up to 6000K and produces 140 lumens/watt, almost ten times as efficient as standard incandescent lamps, and twice the efficiency of high-end LEDs. The new bulbs also have a lifetime of 20,000 hours. There's no mention of mercury or other heavy metals, which pose a problem for compact fluorescents.
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A Super-Efficient Light Bulb

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  • Re:Commercial use (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:34PM (#22831910)
    I'm pretty sure 6000K refers to the color temperature, I don't think a streetlight could ever reach 5727 Celsius without frying people around it.
  • Where's the story? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:36PM (#22831930)
    I went to the link, but it was just an obnoxious video ad. And no, I didn't sit through it.

    I know that a lot of the stories on here are ads in disguise, but this one isn't even hiding. I didn't realize that slashdot was an a linking to unabashed ads now.
  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:49PM (#22832018)

    but there's no mention in the video about scalability or low-power use

    Well they say in the video that it is almost 10 times as efficient in terms of Lumen's per watt (140 vs 15 for a normal bulb). I assume what you mean though is that the new argon bulb might not be able to run at lower powers. So if you just wanted a 60 Watt bulb equivalent, it might not be possible. Is that what you mean?
  • Re:Light pollution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @05:52PM (#22832046) Homepage Journal

    Switch streetlights to a 33% duty cycle with pseudo-random (or really random) timing and instantly reduce power use for street lighting by 66% AND allow people to actually see those mysterious lights in the sky the old Greek dudes were talking about. As a side benefit, studies have shown that crime actually goes DOWN when lights come on at random rather than staying on all the time.

  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:00PM (#22832102)
    No different than any plasma given off by an Arc welder.

    Hazardous UV. You get quite a sunburn like some welders.

    Not good for the eyes either. All wasted energy too.
  • Re:Commercial use (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:01PM (#22832108) Journal [] []

    However, their talk of efficiency is a bit sensationalist. ZDNet makes it sound like this is the most efficient bulb out there. Actually, the Luxim bulbs are roughly the same efficiency as high pressure sodium lamps (the yellow-tinged ones that are often used for streetlights.)
  • Street lights? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:13PM (#22832182)
    Why would we need street lights with a very strong light source using the same spectrum as the sun? What about putting one of these into a beamer instead? Or stadium lights? Every time somebody comes up with a great invention, they seem to want to use it for the weirdest things. Bright sun-light lite disturbs the wildlife anyway, bad idea...
  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:32PM (#22832264)
    One of the problems of current LED and other low-energy bulbs is that they're no good for indoor cultivation of plants. Using lights which require less power and produce less heat are less detectable than regular indoor grow lights. I wonder if these lights are the answer?
  • Re:Commercial use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:44PM (#22832334)
    In the video, the inventors mention that the Argon gas at the centre of the bulb (size of a christmas tree bulb) reaches the temperature of the surface of the sun (6000C). Given the small size of the bulb, there is probably a very steep temperature gradient (otherwise the glass tube would melt). But the energy is dissipated by emitting light of all wavelengths, not just in the infra-red region of the spectrum. I'd be worried about getting sunburn or cataracts from something like this.
  • by Carp Flounderson ( 542291 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @06:48PM (#22832356) Homepage
    This would be great tech for growing a room full of the ganja. Full spectrum light, low power, made in California? Come on... thats what they designed it for!
  • Re:Light pollution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pictish Prince ( 988570 ) <> on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:24PM (#22832552) Journal
    The /. moderation system clearly does not work well. In response to the "troll", however, you don't need to put the telescope somewhere dark on the moon. Having no atmosphere, the moon does not present any difficulties for daytime telescopy since there's no scatter into the objective.
  • Re:Light pollution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:27PM (#22832574) Homepage Journal

    The efficiency when turning on is likely less important than the power draw. If we accept that it's not really necessary to turn night into day, (that is, that grown-ups shouldn't need a nightlight) then having them dim at the beginning of their cycle isn't much of an issue. Those constraints suggest the cycle length will need to be on the long side. Of course, The lights in TFA (being so small) probably have a much faster start-up.

  • Not this again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cairnarvon ( 901868 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:38PM (#22832636) Homepage

    There's no mention of mercury or other heavy metals, which pose a problem for compact fluorescents.

    I wish people would challenge memes like these, because they're mostly bullshit crafted to stir up/reinforce discontent, in this case by the right-wing noise machine against "environmentalists", because that sells newspapers.
    CFLs, like all fluorescent lights, do contain a miniscule amount of mercury (and I do mean miniscule; about 4 mg), but to call it a problem is to vastly overstate the dangers involved. If you break a bulb, you may want to open a window for a bit, but that's about it. The clean-up steps the EPA mentions on their website (mentioned in the linked /. post) are there for the hyper-paranoid, and apply just as much to the regular old-school fluorescent tubes (moreso, since they contain more mercury).

    The "problem" is serious enough that if you have a large population that uses CFLs (like places where incandescents aren't allowed anymore), you want to encourage people to dispose of them safely rather than to just throw them with the rest of the trash, but even if the mercury does end up in the environment, it will be less mercury than has been prevented from getting out by its power savings (Wikipedia has this picture [], which demonstrates the principle for coal plants, but the same thing applies to other types of power plants, except "green" ones like hydroelectric and wind energy; but again, this is only relevant if the bulbs are disposed of unsafely, which is illegal in many places that mandate their use).

  • by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @07:39PM (#22832642)
    Color temperature is (for the most part) a subset of actual black body temperature: []'s_displacement_law [] [] []

    Anyhow, these new lights are a major breakthrough... If they can get them into the hands of the general public relatively quickly.
  • by Chris Oz ( 684680 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @09:39PM (#22833278)
    These lamps are actually pretty average regarding power and life. Street lamps have a much longer life span, typically achieve at least 150-160 lm/w and up to 200 lm/w at their most efficient. The main thing going for these lights is the fact that they are broad spectrum. I found the video interesting in that they didn't allow enough time for the street lamp to warm up. Sodium vapor lamps require at least a couple of minutes to reach their operating level. This was obviously deliberate. There is not way that a 140 lm/w running at 250w is going to beat a 400 w street light at 150 lm/w. The same thing goes for the LED. They claim that leds only achieve around 70 lm/w. That was true about a year ago, commercially available units ( 107~114lm 350mW (1w)) now achieving around 100-120 lm/w for the medium power (a 3w device operating at around 1w). It looks like they will reach around 200 lm/w at high power in a couple of year. Ultimately it is likely that leds will reach around 300 lm/w. LED life span is also way higher ~22 years as opposed to 2 years. I am sure that this light will have its applications. However, unless its efficient and life span can be ramped up, sodium vapor lights will continue to dominate for the near term with leds dominating the world in the future.
  • RF emitter? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Collin ( 41088 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @09:39PM (#22833280) Homepage
    A while back Cringely had a post [] about what sounds like a similar tech from Fusion Lighting and one of the drawbacks that he pointed out was that every one of those bulbs became a RF emitter in the 2.4Ghz range and thus would interfere with WiFi and the other numerous devices that use that unlicensed spectrum. This sounds very similiar, but so far no mention of the interference problem. Anybody know if this has the same issues? If it does, then it could be a polluter in both the visible light (as pointed out by many posts above) and RF ranges.
  • by Software ( 179033 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @09:50PM (#22833308) Homepage Journal
    Does anybody have any links to studies showing that streetlights reduce accidents or crime rates (and by how much)? I think the effect would be minimal, but I'm willing to listen to evidence to the contrary. A Google search [] shows one British town experimenting with turning off lights between midnight and 5 AM [] - it will be interesting to see how the accident and crime rates change.
  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @10:00PM (#22833338) Homepage Journal

    Walking home from a friend's house at 1 a.m. is nothing unusual for me, or for lots of other people. But I wouldn't be able to do it if there weren't decent street lighting.

    Sure you could, if your eyes were allowed to adjust for decent night vision. I've ridden my mountain bike through trails in the middle of the night after my eyes have adjusted. Now, I wouldn't do that down trails I wasn't already familiar with because it'd be easy to miss seeing branches when moving in the dark at 10-12mph, but it was no problem in the trails I was riding through.
  • Re:Short answer.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Saturday March 22, 2008 @10:18PM (#22833404) Journal

    Time to add to your hosts file []. The link is an auto redirect from to This is how Yahoo redirects search results to find out who clicked what. Yawho? search results are thus no longer safe to click. For best results, add to your hosts file or equivalent blocker as well. resolves to The IP address is []. Best to block that as well. The DNS administrator for this server is Slashdot User "Sam H []", UID 3979.

    Somebody at slashdot should have a look at our anonymous coward's IP address. It would be nice if we could quit this nonsense. I hope this isn't some troll that bought a low UID in the auction.

    And maybe some slashdotter in Paris [] could call Sam [] and ask him to fix his compromised [] server []. It does look like someone truly nasty took it over in August of 2005. Big Debian fan this one. Likes the GNAA routine and the whole bit.

    I'm not certain about pinning this on Sam. resolves to a different IP. One of you intertubes wizards want to weigh in here?

  • Re:Light pollution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2008 @11:41PM (#22833720)
    NO SHIT.

    I live on the 30th floor of an apartment building. One full block away, someone is using a 150 or 300 watt incandescent to light up their backyard. Unshielded of course. 50% of it's light is spilled directly into the sky. It's the brightest visible thing in the entire city, RUINS the entire view of the nighttime cityscape because it's so out of place, and at night casts such brightness on my ceiling that if I don't want to be kept awake by the light, I have to pull my curtains (which pisses me off, it's nice to wake up to sunlight in the morning, and it helps one to wake up). I can't imagine how peeved and angry at him all his neighbours are, the ones who live right next to him.

    Furthermore, it's blinding. I can't see a fucking thing in his back yard. Someone could spend a half hour butchering him with an axe right in the middle of his back lawn, and I betcha NOBODY would see a fucking thing. I couldn't.

    I really should print out this post and put it in his mailbox. (Hmmm, perhaps I should hit the "anon" button :) )
  • by tinpan ( 591424 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @12:36AM (#22833962)
    Doesn't beat White LEDs at 300 lumens per watt [].
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @10:57AM (#22836446)
    The generators of the power plants will put out the same voltage continuously, but if less current is drawn, they are significantly easier to turn, and less fuel is consumed.

    Only it doesn't work with nuclear and coal plants.
  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Sunday March 23, 2008 @01:29PM (#22837310) Journal

    I missed your thread.

    Certain aspects of this troll may be illegal in some jurisdictions. I don't know for sure - I'm not in law enforcement. It may not actually be a virus, but only a file that contains a signature. I'm not going to fire up a VM and infect it just to find out. Using Yahoo for URL obfuscation is interesting, though.

    I also did not say that he is the actor here -- only that he's the DNS administrator for the server involved, and that novices shouldn't toy with such levels of uncertainty unless they accept the risks.

    Sam Hocevar is a valuable member of the community. My initial concern was that this was some compromised server that should be fixed and then some curiosity about what was going on. If it happened that Sam got his amusement trolling the internet, well, I guess I could get over the inconvenience of blocking his site. Note that I'm not saying that this is the case -- just that if it were, then I'm no longer interested in the issue. I would think that someone with this level of skill would cover his tracks better if he cared to. Professional trolling can be an unpleasant but instructive laboratory in the field of social dynamics. I'm not interested enough in the field to engage in it myself, but as long as they keep it legal I don't have a problem with it.

    Cmdr Taco does a good job of structuring Slashdot so these folks can be modded down quickly and disappear unless you're looking for them. In fact, we probably shouldn't be discussing the trolls at all. They thrive on the attention. That's all I've got to say about this.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein