Producing high quality white lighting has proved difficult for alternatives to vibrant but inefficient incandescent bulbs. That may be changing, however, as researchers perfect a novel technique for solid-state, LED lighting that produces a more aesthetically-pleasing spectrum.
One of the few alternative technologies that produce pure white light is white-light quantum dots. These are ultra-small fluorescent beads of cadmium selenide that can convert the blue light produced by an LED into a warm white light with a spectrum similar to that of incandescent light. (By contrast, compact fluorescent tubes and most white-light LEDs emit a combination of monochromatic colors that simulate white light).
Seven years ago, when white-light quantum dots were discovered accidentally in a Vanderbilt chemistry lab, their efficiency was too low for commercial applications and several experts predicted that it would be impossible to raise it to practical levels. Today, however, Vanderbilt researchers have proven those predictions wrong by reporting that they have successfully boosted the fluorescent efficiency of these nanocrystals from an original level of three percent to as high as 45 percent.
The enhanced quantum dots use formic acid to enhance the luminosity and bring efficiencies comparable to current commercial phosphors, and correct for the stereotypical blue tint of typical LED lighting products.In the photo below, the enhanced version is on the right.