Aluminum foil lamps: Lighter, brighter, cooler

Researchers create aluminum foil lighting to save energy, space.

How aluminum foil lighting works
University of Illinois

Researchers at the University of Illinois got a bright idea. They developed a form of lighting that's more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. And it's lighter and thinner than current fluorescent lights, which require a ballast and glass tubes. The diagram above shows how the researchers' aluminum foil-based "microcavity" plasma system works to produce light.

New foil lighting system University of Illinois

The researchers say their lighting system would look like a luminous, flat screen that could hang on walls in residential and commercial locations. The technology would even allow for curved and flexible versions of the lights, which could fit a wide variety of surfaces. And by varying the gases in the system, different colors of light would be emitted.

The foil lighting system, even coated with thin protective glass or a clear polymer, would be less than .04 inches thick, so you could hang these lights almost anywhere. Couple that with Microsoft's new table-top computer and you'll add a whole new look to your technie decor. Flat-screen lights wrapped around a door, computer screens you can put your beer on, flexible keyboards--the future could look very different.