LED bulbs have a shot at replacing incandescents and CFLs thanks to their energy efficiency and lack of environmentally damaging chemicals, but they're still too expensive and often need bulky heatsinks. Fluorescents, meanwhile, keep on hurting our eyes with flickery, blue-tinged light, which is why a group of scientists from Wake Forest University are researching yet another light source called FIPEL.
FIPEL, which stands for field-induced polymer electroluminescence (say that five times quickly), is a type of light that produces a calm, steady white light as efficiently as LEDs and is also bendable, which is a huge plus over traditional bulbs. FIPEL uses carbon nanotubes dispersed in a polymer to create light when exposed to an alternating current. At this point, it might be easier to find something awesome that doesn't involve carbon nanotubes than to name all of the promising future-tech research based around them.
In scientist speak, the success of this technique could pave the way to FIPEL-based lightbulbs: "From the trends in behavior with nanotube loading, we suggest that the nanotubes effectively doped the polymer, modifying energy level alignment in the device and increasing field-induced polarization currents. The combined effects of electron injection and charge generation may pave the way for widespread use of MWNTs in high-performance FIPEL devices."
The scientists claim FIPEL lights could last as long as a decade, and they could be created in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit standard bulb sockets or to replace long fluorescent tubes. No word on how much FIPEL lights would actually cost, though the team behind the study are optimistic that bulbs could appear as early as 2013.