The Light Bulb: Past, Present and Future

Light is a thing we all humans need to thrive. Take our natural source of light, the sun, or even artificial light, both illuminate the things we do and all the activities we perform. It is very important to note that, without light it would be very difficult or even impossible for the Earth to…

Light is a thing we all humans need to thrive. Take our natural source of light, the sun, or even artificial light, both illuminate the things we do and all the activities we perform. It is very important to note that, without light it would be very difficult or even impossible for the Earth to sustain any form of life. All biological activities in our bodies as well as the activities surrounding us flourish in the light. Electric bulbs are considered one of humanity's greatest inventions; it has continuously evolved since its discovery in the 19th century to today.

Thomas Alva Edison is the inventor of incandescent bulbs. But there were many scientists who had discovered the light bulb before him. Scientists were able to find out that a thin metal strip when heated for a long time could emit light. But, efficiency was a huge concern. Humphry Davy came up with this invention for the first time in the 1802 and raised the eyebrows of many collections other scientists of his day. The only problem at that time with incandescent light was the material which produced the light. It was first discovered that a platinum strip was the only material that could hold the light for any period of time. But the atmosphere would not allow the light to last very long. So they decided to create a light bulb which was completely covered and air tight. Edison used a carbon filament and sealed bulb which emitted light longer than using the original platinum filament. Scientists agreed that Edison's invention was incredible and sustainable, thus dubbing him the “Father of Electricity”.

With advances in lighting technologies CFL bulbs came into picture. Compact fluorescent lamps are smaller in size and last longer when compared to incandescent bulbs. The materials used in CFL bulbs are gas and magnetic. Magnetic material is used to initiate the movement of elements in the gas which emits light. Fluorescent bulbs use mercury, a poisonous toxin to humans, making them extremely dangerous if broken and difficult to dispose of. These bulbs produce less heat so having better efficiency. They also produce more light compared to the incandescent lights. The heat generated in incandescent lights ends up using more energy. A CFL bulb's lifetime can last anywhere from 6,000 to 13,000 hours before needing to be replaced, where an incandescent bulb ranges from 750 to 1,000 hours.

The invention of advanced LED (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs has had a great impact on the market in various aspects. The light emitted by a single diode is small, so most of the time there will be multiple diodes in a bulb which can emit light continuously, even if one of the diodes goes out. LED bulbs can run 22,000 to 25,000 hours. Some LED bulbs even boast a lifetime guarantee. Another important thing to keep in mind in regards to LED lamps is that most bulbs will not emit light in all directions and so they are specifically designed to give unidirectional light. But with further advances in LED technology bulbs with multi-directional light are making their way out on the market. LED bulbs are versatile and are able to be used for indoor as well as outdoor lighting.