Quantum dots and the end of the light bulb

Despite over a century of dependable service it seems the days of the humble light bulb may be numbered and all because of an accidental scientific discovery involving LEDs and quantum dots.

LEDs are already widely used in everyday life, from bike lights to traffic lights, but it seems their quest to take over our homes and living rooms was held back by scientists inability to get LEDs to emit a pure bright light.

Altering blue LEDs to emit a white light with a blue hue was as close as scientists had come until Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, stumbled across his discovery whilst experimenting with quantum dots - a semiconductor crystal generally only a few nanometers big.

According to work published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and reported in Live Science and The Inquirer, when you shine light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them they produce a bright blue glow but when Bowers shined a laser on the dot he got an unexpected white glow.

When Bowers stirred the dots into polyurethane and coated a blue LED light bulb it produced a warm yellowish-white light, twice as bright as a normal 60 watt light bulb and able to last 50 times longer .

If LEDs are set to replace the humble lightbulb has anyone thought to ask the poor old moths what they think of the idea?