A lightbulb made from wonder-material graphene will reportedly go on sale later this year, and it's promising to be brighter, cheaper, longer-lasting and use 10 percent less energy than even the best LEDs.
The dimmable lightbulb contains a filament-shaped LED that's coated in graphene, a one-atom-thick material that's 200 times stronger than steel, super flexible and also extremely conductive. If all goes to plan, this will be the first commercial graphene product to hit the market.
It's the conductive ability of graphene that makes the light bulbs so efficient, according to the developers at the University of Manchester in the UK, where the material was first discovered in 2004. The bulb is now being produced by Graphene Lighting, a spin-off company, and will be sold for less than US$20, The Financial Times report [paywall].
"This lightbulb shows that graphene products are becoming a reality, just a little more than a decade after it was first isolated - a very short time in scientific terms," said Colin Bailey, deputy president of the University of Manchester, in a press release. "This is just the start. Our partners are looking at a range of exciting applications, all of which started right here in Manchester."
It's safe to say that Bailey is right. Cutting the energy we need to light our homes and businesses by 10 percent is an ambitious start, but there's plenty of potential commercial applications in the pipeline, ranging from doubling the efficiency of solar cells to making smaller transistors.
Other applications won't be as quick to hit the market, but we're pretty excited about them nonetheless, like graphene's potential to create technology that can filter hydrogen fuel right out of thin air or produce a 'million-fold' increase in our hard drive storage.
As scientists find ways to produce graphene in bulk, we're going to see the material revolutionising even more industries. Bring it on.