SOME 800million tonnes of CO2 is generated each year in Europe from artificial lighting. Organic solid state lighting, in conjunction with other technologies can take lighting off-grid, thus saving CO2 .
Dr Geoff Williams of Thorn Lighting at Spennymoor leads the Thin Organic Polymeric Light Emitting Semiconductor Surfaces Project, an initiative to advance the materials and production technology for light-emitting polymers (PLEDs) with a view to taking lighting "off-grid". Collaborators on the project include Cambridge Display Technology and Durham University.
Williams believes that the amount of energy consumed will be comparable with fluorescent lighting - however, as it uses a 4 to 5 volt DC current, instead of the standard 240V AC, it could enable offices to be lit using batteries recharged by solar power. PLEDs are ultra-thin sheets of organic polymers located between two electrode layers and printed on to glass substrate panels. When a voltage is applied, white light is generated within the system of sheets and emerges through one of the electrode layers.
The group's working sample has given confidence that the technology can be industrialised, producing panels of light 150mm square.
Industry insiders have suggested that if stable manufacturing could be demonstrated significant investment for mass production in the North East could follow. The consortium has recently submitted an application to the UK government for a 5million euro programme to take the technology to the next level - hopefully at the new Printable Electronics Technology Centre (PETeC) in Sedgefield.