A light bulb made with graphene – a substance developed by Russian scientists in 2004 – is to go on sale later this year.
The dimmable bulb contains a filament-shaped LED coated in graphene. Designed at Manchester University, where the material was first discovered by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov over a decade ago, the light bulb is said to cut energy use by 10% and last longer owing to its conductivity.
The light bulb was developed in conjunction with a Canadian-financed company called Graphene Lighting – one of whose directors is Prof Colin Bailey, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Manchester. The National Graphene Institute at the university was opened this month.
The government has invested £38m in the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with an additional £23m provided by the European Regional Development Fund.
Based on traditional light bulb design, the use of graphene allows it to conduct electricity and heat more effectively. The light bulb is expected to be priced lower than some LED bulbs, which can cost about £15 each.
Prof Bailey told the BBC: “The graphene light bulb will use less energy. We expect it to last longer. The manufacturing costs are lower and it uses more and more sustainable components.”
More than 35 companies worldwide have already partnered with the university to develop projects. As well as more energy efficient lightbulbs, it’s expected that graphene will have other practical and commercial uses, including lighter but more robust bike, car and aircraft frames, flexible mobile phones and even false teeth. The material has already been incorporated into products such as tennis racquets and skis.