Photonic crystals are nanoscopic structures designed to channel light of specific wavelengths while blocking other wavelengths.
This ability to control and filter light with great efficiency makes them hugely useful for applications such as increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by absorbing light at certain optimal wavelengths.
Today, Sergei Belousov and buddies at the Kintech Lab in Moscow and a number of friends at the GE Global Research Center in New York state, say they have another application for photonics crystals. They’ve worked out how photonic crystals can dramatically improve the light emitting efficiency of tungsten in the hope of reinventing the light bulb.
Tungsten bulbs have had a bad press, to say the least. Tungsten has a high melting point (3695 K) and so can be heated until it glows without melting. The problem is that only 5 per cent of the light it emits is visible, the rest being infrared, which simply goes to waste. With an efficiency of only 5 per cent, tungsten bulbs have rapidly fallen out of favour.