UK scientists launch first ever graphene light bulb

Researchers at the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI) have revealed the world’s first ever graphene light bulb.

The light bulb, which at first glance looks traditionally designed, incorporates a filament of the carbon structure known as graphene.

With this new filament the graphene light bulb lasts much longer than pre-existing technologies, and additionally, is much more efficient than energy-saving LED lights. Unlike the LED bulbs, the graphene light bulb is relatively cheap to manufacture.

Due to its commercial potential, the NGI has the spun off a separate entity called Graphene Lighting PLC in order to produce and market these bulbs.

The new graphene light bulb will hit in the market “within months”, making them the world’s first commercially available product using graphene technology. Reporting by the Financial Times suggests that the bulb could cost less than $20 (£13.46, AUD$26.61).

“This light bulb shows that graphene products are becoming a reality, just a little more than a decade after it was first isolated – a very short time in scientific terms. Professor Colin Bailey,” said Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester.

Graphene was isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004 by Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov, earning them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010. The university set up the NGI to capitalise on this expertise.

Mark Thompson, MD of ASX-listed Swedish graphene supplier, Talga Resources, commented that the development proved that graphene was a technology to be taken seriously now.

“The graphene light-bulb development serves as strong validation that applications requiring bulk quantities of graphene are here today and not necessarily a pipe dream for the future,” he said.

“Graphene as an additive can improve the properties of countless items around us, in many cases products are already developed, with no need to turn manufacturing processes upside down or alter tooling. The main factor holding up this material revolution is access to a reliable large volume source of supply, and that solution is obviously now underway.”

Graphene: a new wonder material

Graphene itself is an allotrope of Carbon where atoms of the element are arranged into a hexagonal, two-dimensional lattice structure.

This structure has many useful properties including incredibly high strength, and an almost unrivalled ability to conduct both heat and electricity.

Due to these properties, the material, if produced in large enough quantities could allow for massive breakthroughs in certain fields. These include: significantly more efficient solar panels, batteries which can store much larger amounts of energy and even theoretically invisibility cloaks.

The current market for graphene production stood at just $9 Million USD ($11.8 Million AUD) globally in 2014, however if more commercial uses for graphene are found, this could skyrocket dramatically.