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Wanted: LED Lamps That Magically Glow For Hours After Being Switched Off

Design Academy Eindhoven grads dream up a new, green way to produce light — without a direct lightsource.

Gionata Gatto and Mike Thompson, a couple of recent grads from the Design Academy Eindhoven, showcased a striking, new lighting concept at the Milan furniture fair last week: Glass lamps that glow well after the lightbulb goes dark, like magic.



Lovely and completely eerie, right? Turns out, what seems like an act of alchemy is just plain old chemistry, and pretty basic chemistry, to boot. Each lamp is hand-blown using Murano glass that's embedded with a layer of a photoluminescent pigment. Switch on the lightbulb, and the pigment gets excited, sucking up photons. Turn off the lightbulb, and the pigment radiates all those trapped photons as visible light. It's the same effect you saw as a kid when you stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling.

The difference: Here, 30 minutes with an LED or a traditional incandescent bulb yields up to eight full hours of ambient lighting. Which means the aptly named Trap Lights have lots of potential applications. They could be used as anything from children's night lights to flashlights in power outages to mood lighting in swank hotels (even if the aesthetic is perhaps too country-inn rustic for your average Mondrian). And because they provide more light for less electricity — even compared with a standard LED lamp — they tread lightly on both the environment and your energy bill.

A clutch of the Trap Lights went on sale during Milan Design Week at the Spazio Rossana Orlandi gallery, though Thompson tells us there are just two models left, so if you want to snap 'em up, you'd better contact the gallery fast.

[Images courtesy of Mike Thompson]

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  • Steve Hoefer

    While beautiful and haunting, these lights don't save energy.  In fact the reverse.  For it to emit light when its off it has to absorb light when its on, which reduces its output. To make matters worse the photolumenescent conversion rate is between 10-20%. So the coating will absorb and never reemit 80-90% of what it absorbs.

    Considering how energy intensive the build process is and that photolumenescent chemicals are generally rare and are obtained through destructive mining processes, this is a non-starter, environmentally.

    Very pretty though.  They should be prod enough of how it looks and acts to not break its credibility by claiming environmental up side.