December 2008


Each year, millions of eyes from all over the world are focused on the sparkling Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball. At 11:59 p.m., the Ball begins its descent as millions of voices unite to count down the final seconds of the year, and celebrate the beginning of a new year full of hopes, challenges, changes and dreams.

The "New" New Year's Eve Ball

On November 11th, 2008, The co-organizers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square (Times Square Alliance, Countdown Entertainment) unveiled a new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at a press conference at Hudson Scenic Studio in Yonkers, New York.

The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a 12 foot geodesic sphere, double the size of previous Balls, and weighs 11,875 pounds.  Covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals and powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS, the new Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square.


The organizers also announced that the new Ball will become a year-round attraction above Times Square in full public view January through December.


“For one hundred years, the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball has attracted millions of revelers to Times Square on December 31st to celebrate the beginning of the New Year” said Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment and co-organizer of Times Square New Year’s Eve.  “The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball will be a bright sparkling jewel atop One Times Square entertaining New Yorkers and tourists from around the world not only on December 31, but throughout the year.”



“The New Year’s Eve ball is bigger, better and brighter than ever, just like Times Square itself,” said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins. “And like Times Square, it’s not afraid to show off. That’s why we’re proudly putting it on display year-round so visitors to the neighborhood can enjoy a true Crossroads of the World icon.”


WATERFORD CRYSTAL created an exclusive “Let There Be Joy” design for the crystal triangles on the new Ball. Designed and crafted by Waterford artisans in Ireland, “Let There Be Joy” features the design of an angel with arms uplifted welcoming the New Year on each of the 1,728 new crystals.  The remaining 960 triangles are last year’s “Let There Be Light” design of a stylized radiating starburst.

"The new 2009 Times Square New Year's Ball represents the perfect blend of time-honored craftsmanship and state of the art technology," says Pete Cheyney, Director of Corporate Communications for Waterford Crystal. "The theme for the Waterford crystals on this year's Ball, "Let There be Joy" reflects our belief that New Year's Eve is a time when happiness and optimism for the future should be at the forefront of everyone's thoughts.  We at Waterford consider the Ball to be of our Company's greatest achievements."  


PHILIPS LIGHTING provided the new solid state lighting technology for the Ball, resulting in an astounding increase in impact, energy efficiency, and color capabilities.  Capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million colors and billions of possible patterns, the 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs in this year's Ball represent more than three times the number of LEDS used last year, to deliver a brighter and more beautiful New Year's experience than ever before. And this year’s Ball is 10-20% more energy efficient than last year’s already energy-efficient Ball, consuming only the same amount of energy per hour as it would take to operate two traditional home ovens.

"At Philips Lighting, we are proud to be driving innovative and energy-efficient solutions for the world's broad range of lighting applications – from celebrated landmarks to consumers' homes — and we're especially delighted to be the official Lighting Partner to the iconic New Year's Eve Ball in Times Square," said Philips Lighting Company Director of Corporate Communications Susan Bloom.  "Now bigger in size and incorporating even more powerful and energy-efficient Philips Luxeon LEDs than last year, this year's Ball will deliver a New Year's Eve experience that will be brighter, more beautiful, and more sustainable than ever before."


FOCUS LIGHTING created a spectacular and unique lighting design that utilizes over 3,500 lighting cues to orchestrate the colorful moving patterns of light radiating from the Ball.  Theatrical techniques were used to show the beauty of each facet of each individual crystal, making the sparkle visible whether viewed from 5’ away (as members of the press have seen it) or from 500’ when viewed from the streets of Times Square.  It is like accenting a performer on a stage.

“We tried to create a beacon of light in the sky over Times Square,” says Paul Gregory, Principal Lighting Designer for Focus Lighting.   

The companies listed below also provided essential contributions to the development of the new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball:

E:Cue Lighting Control provided lighting control system

Hudson Scenic Studio provided structural engineering design and development

Landmark Signs assembles and operates the Ball

Lapp Group provided power and control cabling

Lighting Science Group provided the 672 LED modules and technology integration

History of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball

Revelers began celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year's Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square.

The first New Year's Eve Ball, made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. It was built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, and for most of the twentieth century the company he founded, sign maker Artkraft Strauss, was responsible for lowering the ball.

As part of the 1907-1908 festivities, waiters in the fabled "lobster palaces" and other deluxe eateries in hotels surrounding Times Square were supplied with battery-powered top hats emblazoned with the numbers "1908" fashioned of tiny light bulbs. At the stroke of midnight, they all "flipped their lids" and the year on their foreheads lit up in conjunction with the numbers "1908" on the parapet of the Times Tower lighting up to signal the arrival of the new year.

The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime "dimout" of lights in New York City. Nevertheless, the crowds still gathered in Times Square in those years and greeted the New Year with a minute of silence followed by the ringing of chimes from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower – a harkening-back to the earlier celebrations at Trinity Church, where crowds would gather to "ring out the old, ring in the new."

(Above) New Year's Eve Ball, 1978. Photo credit: The New York Times.

In 1920, a 400 pound ball made entirely of wrought iron replaced the original. In 1955, the iron ball was replaced with an aluminum ball weighing a mere 200 pounds. This aluminum Ball remained unchanged until the 1980s, when red light bulbs and the addition of a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign from 1981 until 1988. After seven years, the traditional glowing white Ball with white light bulbs and without the green stem returned to brightly light the sky above Times Square. In 1995, the Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls, but the aluminum ball was lowered for the last time in 1998.

For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year's Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal. The new crystal Ball combined the latest in technology with the most traditional of materials, reminding us of our past as we gazed into the future and the beginning of a new millenium.

About "Time-Balls"

The actual notion of a ball "dropping" to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year's Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first "time-ball" was installed atop England's Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o'clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers (a vital navigational instrument).

Around 150 public time-balls are believed to have been installed around the world after the success at Greenwich, though few survive and still work. The tradition is carried on today in places like the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where a time-ball descends from a flagpole at noon each day – and of course, once a year in Times Square, where it marks the stroke of midnight not for a few ships' captains, but for over one billion people watching worldwide.

The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball 2000-2007

The 2000-2007 version of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball, designed by Waterford Crystal, made its first descent during the last minute of the 20th century, at the Times Square 2000 Celebration.

The Ball was a geodesic sphere, six feet in diameter, and weighed approximately 1,070 pounds. It was covered with a total of 504 Waterford crystal triangles that varied in size and ranged in length from 4.75 inches to 5.75 inches per side.

For the 2007 New Year's Eve celebration, 72 of the crystal triangles featured the new "Hope for Peace" design, consisting of three dove-like patterns symbolizing messengers of peace.The remaining 432 triangles featured Waterford designs from previous years, including the Hope for Fellowship, Hope for Wisdom, Hope for Unity, Hope for Courage, Hope for Healing, Hope for Abundance, and Star of Hope triangles. These crystal triangles were bolted to 168 translucent triangular lexan panels which were attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball. The exterior of the Ball was illuminated by 168 Philips Halogená Brilliant Crystal light bulbs, exclusively engineered for the New Year's Eve Ball to enhance the Waterford crystal. The interior of the Ball was illuminated by 432 Philips Light Bulbs (208 clear, 56 red, 56 blue, 56 green, and 56 yellow), and 96 high-intensity strobe lights, which together create bright bubbling bursts of color. The exterior of the Ball featured 90 rotating pyramid mirrors that reflect light back into the audience at Times Square.

All 696 lights and 90 rotating pyramid mirrors were computer controlled, enabling the Ball to produce a state-of-the-art light show of eye-dazzling color patterns and a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square. The now-retired 2000-2007 New Year's Eve Ball is the property of the building owners of One Times Square.


Recently, we were helping a customer in Canada. Our customer wanted ENERGY STAR rated bulbs. At, we are beginning to carry ENERGY STAR rated bulbs and will continue to look for the best to offer you in ENERGY STAR bulbs as we find them. 

Here is some information about ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting and bulbs that you can find at  

The ENERGY STAR is awarded to only certain bulbs that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria. 

ENERGY STAR Qualified LED Lighting:

  • Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
  • Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
  • Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.
  • Is guaranteed — comes with a minimum three-year warranty — far beyond the industry standard.
  • Offers convenient features — available with dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on some outdoor models.
  • Is durable — won’t break like a bulb.
Commercial LED Lighting applications

Upgrading recessed down lights (ceiling light fixtures shown in photo) to ENERGY STAR qualified LED recessed down lights can significantly reduce operating, maintenance, and cooling costs.

Aren’t all LED lights highly efficient and long-lasting?

LED with normal color after 100 hours
LED discolored after 1000 hours

After less than a year of use, a poorly designed LED product can flicker, shift in color, look dim, offer uneven light, or continue to use power when turned off, among other problems.

Not necessarily. LEDs have been efficient and long lasting as indicator lights in electronics for years, but using LEDs to create stable white light for general lighting presents new challenges. The key to success is smart design. To qualify for ENERGY STAR, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:

  • Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
  • Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
  • Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
  • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  • No flicker when dimmed.
  • No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.

Bad design can lead to a wide range of problems, some immediately observable and some not. Poorly designed products often come with exaggerated claims while failing to deliver on the quality specifications above.

At, we are happy to be able to sell you ENERGY STAR quailified LED fixtures.

LED's are everywhere. You seem them blinking at you from most of the machines you use on a daily basis: cars, washing machines, DVD players, phones, computers, stoplights… With a few exceptions, however, the primary purpose of an LED is to "indicate" rather than "illuminate".  But soon, a few new developments may bring solid-state illuminating lighting into our lives.

At, we will be among the first to bring you the latest and best in LED lighting.

Here's an explanation of the science courtesy of Chris Rollins:
An LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is a type of circuit element that emits light when electrical current flows through it in the appropriate direction. Like a normal diode, current flow is blocked when it travels against the direction of the diode. When a positive voltage is applied to the positive side of an LED, the electrons that flow are required to jump down in energy as they cross the diode – emitting the lost energy as light. This light is generated at one specific frequency, based on the characteristics of the materials used. When creating white light that may be useful for lighting, however, a blending of many colors is needed – something the LED does not seemed easily poised to accomplish, despite numerous advances in LED technology.

Red light was the first visible light LED to be produced, in 1962, followed by yellow and green. Much later, in the early 1990's, blue-spectrum LED's were developed – a huge advance in usefulness, since blue light can be combined with red and green to make white light. However, this approach was inefficient, and companies were scrambling to make a single diode that could produce white light on its own. Then, in 1993, a company named Nichia created the first white LED using a blue LED with a phosphor coating. The coating was the trick – it provided enough shifting of the light wavelength coming from the diode itself to create white colored light.

Why, then, aren't we using LED's – which are much more efficient than either incandescent or fluorescent bulbs – to light up our homes and offices? The major problem, of course, is cost. Current white LED's require a substrate made of sapphire and an additional mirroring layer to reflect light that would otherwise be lost. As a result, LED lights already on the market cost approximately $100, far too much for the average consumer.

Researchers at Purdue University have found one method of significantly reducing the cost of a white LED by eliminating the expensive layer of sapphire. Instead, they used silicon as the substrate (the material the diode is printed on) and zirconium nitride as the reflector. This had never been done before, mainly because silicon reacts with zirconium nitride and changes its properties. The researchers solved this by putting a layer of aluminum nitride between the silicon and zirconium nitride. 

"One of the main achievements in this work was placing a barrier on the silicon substrate to keep the zirconium nitride from reacting," said Timothy D. Sands, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park. 

Reactor: Timothy D. Sands, left, watches over a reactor that deposits gallium nitride on silicon at a temperature of 1000° CPhoto Credit: University of Purdue

Silicon also provides a crystalline structure that the other materials conform to when deposited on the substrate.  

"We call this epitaxial growth, or the ordered arrangement of atoms on top of the substrate," Sands said. "The atoms travel to the substrate, and they move around on the silicon until they find the right spot." 

Crystalline structure is very important to the efficient working of an LED – if the materials used to create the LED were sprayed on glass, for instance, the LED would operate very inefficiently. Using silicon also reduces cost by allowing industry to scale up, or create large batches of LED's on large wafers of silicon, something the semiconductor industry is already good at.

LED lighting holds many advantages over traditional lighting, most notably in efficiency. "If you replaced existing lighting with solid-state lighting, following some reasonable estimates for the penetration of that technology based on economics and other factors, it could reduce the amount of energy we consume for lighting by about one-third," Sands said. "That represents a 10 percent reduction of electricity consumption and a comparable reduction of related carbon emissions." LED's are also more durable than incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs, and have the added bonus of being devoid of mercury – a chemical found in compact fluorescent bulbs that makes them difficult to dispose of.

E. Fred Schubert, a professor of electrical engineering and physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, recently published a paper where he describes the coming revolution of solid-state lighting. "Replacement is fine," he says. "But we must look beyond the replacement paradigm to see the true benefits of LED lights." Schubert imagines large panels that are able to control all aspects of lighting for a room, far more than simply "on" or "off." With cheap LED's available, many different wavelengths could be created in a room and blended to produce specific effects, like an accurate representation of sunlight at different periods of the day. This is important, since current white LED's produce a harsh bluish light that people generally don't like to use when doing normal indoor activities, like reading. The ability to control the hue and saturation of light is something many consumers may find appealing.

The way the industry is booming, Sands expects that we will have LED lights within 2 years. There are still technical hurdles, but he expects industry to clear them easily. "These are engineering issues," he said. "Not major show stoppers."

Bright Idea Illuminates LED Standards

NIST scientists Yuqin Zong (pictured) and Yoshi Ohno have developed a new method for measuring the optical properties of high power LEDs that will allow manufacturers to accurately obtain and compare data. By mounting the LED on a temperature controlled heat sink, the researchers can test the LEDs at their normal operating temperature (important to commercial manufacturers) at high speed (important to LED manufacturers).
Credit: B. Young, NIST

We at are always trying to stay abreast of the latest developments in the science and technology to be able to offer you the consumer the very best LED lighting solutions.  On our LED Superstore website,, we don't include too much of the technical details. Instead, we just try to offer you the best.  However, you should know that we are always out there learning the latest developments so we can offer you the very best.

There has been a challenge in the LED industry that was recently improved by the development of new methods for measuring optical properties of high power LEDs.

The lack of common measurement methods among LED and lighting manufacturers has affected the commercialization of solid-state lighting products. In a recent paper,* researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposed a new, economical method to allow LED and lighting manufacturers to obtain accurate, reproducible and comparable measurements of LED brightness and color.

The quality of the light that high-power LEDs produce depends on their operating temperature. To speed production, LED manufacturers typically use a high-speed pulsed test to measure the color and brightness of their products. However, because pulsed measurements do not give the LED chip time to warm to its normal operating temperature, the measured light output quality is not the same as would be realized in actual lighting products.

The lighting industry uses a steady-state DC measurement approach similar to that used for traditional incandescents and fluorescents. This method involves turning the light on, letting it warm up and measuring the characteristics of the light produced. Although time-consuming, DC measurement provides a more realistic test of how the lighting product will perform in a consumer’s living room. The problem was that researchers did not understand how the DC measurement results correlated with the pulse measurement results that LED manufacturers use.

NIST scientists Yuqin Zong and Yoshi Ohno have created a standard high-power LED measurement method that satisfies the needs of both LED and lighting manufacturers. The NIST method leverages the fact that the optical and electrical characteristics of an LED are interrelated and a function of the LED’s junction temperature (the temperature of the semiconductor chip inside the LED, which is normally very difficult to measure).

The researchers’ new method entails mounting the LED on a temperature-controlled heat sink set to the desired LED junction temperature between 10°C and 100°C. After applying a pulse of electricity through the LED and measuring the voltage flowing across the junction, scientists turn on the DC power to the LED and adjust the temperature of the heat sink to ensure the voltage remains constant. When measuring the light output of an LED, this approach allows researchers to achieve a junction temperature similar to that found in a commercial lighting fixture. The measurement results can be reproducible regardless of pulse or DC operation, or type of heat sink.

The new method also allows the measurement of heat flow in and out of the LED, enabling LED and lighting manufacturers to improve the design of the LED and the thermal management system of the associated lighting product. Effective thermal management is important in lighting products because LEDs perform more efficiently and last much longer at lower temperatures. 
* Y. Zong and Y. Ohno. New practical method for measurement of high-power LEDs. Proc. CIE Expert Symposium on Advances in Photometry and Colorimetry. CIE x033:2008, 102-106 (2008).

For more information visit

Sale Shopping for 2009 Holiday Lights? Consider Energy-Efficient LEDs

For anyone shopping the post-holiday sales in order to stock up on holiday lights for 2009, a word to the wise: make sure the lights you purchase are of the light-emitting diode (LED) variety, rather than incandescent bulbs. LEDs will cost more up front, but you'll save a ton in the long

"A 60-light LED string will put out as much light as a 100-light incandescent string, and will result in an 88 percent savings on your electric bill," said Con Edison Lighting Specialist Peter Jacobson. "That's almost 9/10 of what you're spending on energy for holiday lights. That'll keep more green in your wallet, and you'll be happier every holiday season for the rest of your life because of it."

Considering that the holiday lighting season is 45 days long, and that lights are typically on for seven hours a night, the seasonal savings will amount to 11-plus kilowatt hours for each string of lights, or the difference between $3.05 per incandescent string to 37 cents for an LED string. That amounts to $2.25 savings for each LED string. (A string of incandescents will use 13.858 kilowatt hours (kWh) over a lighting season, while LEDs will use only 1.69 kWh.)

"Multiply that by the number of strings that you're displaying," noted Jacobson, "and it adds up."

While an incandescent string of lights uses 41 watts, an LED string uses only five watts, according to Jacobson.

"The 60 LED lights will be just as bright as the 100 incandescents, and you'll never have to replace the LED lights again," Jacobson added. "The LEDs last 20,000 hours, and the typical lighting season is 315 hours. So unless you expect to be in charge of putting up the lights 60 years from now, you won't need to replace the LEDs. You're done. You're saving the environment and cutting energy costs at the same time."

Incandescent lights run $3 to $5 for a string, while LED lights are typically about $12 for a branded product and $6 for a non-branded product. The payback period, Jacobson estimates, is four and a half years.

You can find your LED holiday light strings at

Lighting Science (LSG), a global developer and integrator of intelligent and efficient light-emitting diode (LED) solutions, and the ACO Group, the worldwide leader in water drain systems and intelligent water drainage, today announced the global availability of the ACO Eyeleds solution for illuminating outdoor spaces. The new drainage solution will incorporate attractive and sustainable LED lighting technology as a permanent part of track drainage grates, which provide natural locations for pathway illumination.

"Designed as a guiding and decorative option for illuminating paths, open spaces, sport areas and private driveways, the ACO Eyeleds system represents the intersection of function and design," said Anja Sievers, product manager at ACO. "We are excited to be working with a world-class LED company. Lighting Science was indispensable in providing the technical expertise and innovation to deliver our joint vision of an attractive and sustainable drainage solution."

The system can be added to new projects and existing removable drain grates, eliminating the need to install light fixtures directly into the concrete, tile or wood surface itself. The system also provides low energy consumption of only 3 watts per light point and a life span of up to 100,000 hours.

"Outdoor drains are typically installed in rugged environments that demand the performance and reliability of our hallmark Eyeleds solution," said Richard Q.van de Vrie, Business Group Executive, Eyeleds International at Lighting Science. "The ACO Eyeleds System is the first result of our partnership with ACO and received a strong reception during its launch at the GalaBau conference in Germany. The system demonstrates the low profile, easy installation and durability of the Eyeleds product, in addition to ACO's forward-looking approach to the drainage market."

ACO Drain systems, made of corrosion-resistant polymer concrete and recycled material compounds, are the leading modular trench drain systems. The ACO Eyeleds, installed in the plastic grating load class B 125, are powerful white LED light sources which feature a build-in depth of just 6.5 mm. They are resistant to scratches, shocks and UV rays and completely watertight. The ACO Eyeleds can withstand "walk" or "drive-over" loads up to 285kg, ideal for drainage systems. The installation process involves a simple joining of cable connections, with no electrician required.

About Lighting Science

Lighting Science Group Corporation ( innovates, designs, manufactures and markets LED lighting solutions for professional and consumer applications that are environmentally friendlier and less costly to operate than traditional lighting products. The Company's patented and patent-pending designs in power management, thermal management, light engines, controls and micro-electronics are engineered to enhance lighting performance, reduce energy consumption, lower maintenance costs and eliminate the use of hazardous materials. The company is at the forefront of global LED research and product development and designs and manufactures ready-to-use LED lamps and luminaires, as well as provides customized lighting solutions for architectural and artistic projects. Lighting Science has offices in New York, New York; Westampton, New Jersey; Sacramento, California; Satellite Beach, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Tokyo, Japan; Goes, The Netherlands; Buckinghamshire, England; and Sydney, Australia.

About LED Holdings

LED Holdings, LLC, a portfolio company of Pegasus Capital Advisors ( holds a majority of the issued and outstanding shares of Common Stock of Lighting Science Group Corporation. Pegasus Capital Advisors is a private equity fund manager with offices in New York, New York and Cos Cob, Connecticut. Founded in 1995, Pegasus provides capital to middle market companies across a wide range of industries, with particular focus on businesses that make a meaningful contribution to society by positively affecting the environment, contributing to sustainability and enabling healthy living.

About ACO

ACO is based in Rendsburg/Budelsdorf in north Germany and stands for top quality building and surface drainage worldwide. As a globally active business, the ACO Group is represented in over 40 countries. The family-owned company from Schleswig-Holstein in north Germany was founded in 1946 on the compound of the Carlshutte foundry in Budelsdorf and still has very close links with the region. The Group's core competencies are in system solutions for civil engineering, construction, and building services. ACO develops innovative solutions in these sectors, which also protect assets from the consequences of extreme weather. Manufacturing competence in polymer concrete, reinforced concrete, stainless steel, cast iron and plastic, not to mention system solutions for construction, gardening & landscaping, and sports arenas, are all part of the broad spectrum of products available from the world market leader in surface drainage.

University of Florida researchers are close to discovering a new type of LED lighting having the advantages of both an incandescent light bulb (light quality) and a fluorescent one (very low energy consumption).

The researchers have achieved a new record in efficiency of blue organic LEDs (OLEDs). Blue is essential to white light, but until now it has not been possible producing it efficiently. The new OLEDs are even much more efficient than compact fluorescents, and can produce a quality light similar to your incandescent bulb up there.

“The quality of the light is really the advantage,” said Franky So, a UF associate professor of materials science and engineering and the lead investigator on the project.

The main difference between a LED and an OLED is that OLEDs are built from organic semiconductors (such as those making up organic solar cells), while LEDs are built in silicon, an inorganic material. OLEDs have higher efficiency, better color saturation and a larger viewing angle. They’re already used in cell phones, cameras and PDAs. Sony introduced an OLED flat TV recently.  

I heard it said that OLED televisions will be "better than reality".  Just a short while ago, tiny OLED displays cost about $5 million. Now they’re getting cheap enough that by Christmas 2010, we should be able to afford OLED TVs and we'll be using OLEDs instead of our light bulbs.

We at are committed to bringing you OLED bulbs as soon as they are affordable. Keep checking here, and subscribe to our blog feed over there on the right, and you'll know the second they're available.

Franky So and his team achieved an efficiency of 50 lumens/watt (lumen = measure of the light brightness perceived by the human eye). Their goal is to achieve white light with an efficiency higher than 100 lumens/watt.

To create the white light, they combine many OLEDs of the three colours making up the white colour (red+green+blue). It’s a process similar to that of a cathodic ray TV set. They’re so small that the eye can’t see them individually from a distance, and each of those LEDs has an individual light – the result is a clear, pure white light. “The quality of the light generated can easily be tuned by using different color emitters” he said. “You can make it red, green, blue or white.”

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