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Light Bulb Evolution

Mar 12, 2008
After the invention of the incandescent bulb, newer, better ideas for light bulbs began to take off. In the early part of the twentieth century, experiments with various gases led to the advent of a wider range of light bulbs never before seen.

There are other types of light bulbs which arose from the notion of arc lamps. These involve sending electricity into a vacuum or gas-filled glass bulb or tube. If the glass is filled with neon gas, its electrons are excited, producing a light. The type of gas that is put into this type of light bulb will determine the name and the color of the light. The gases used are called Noble gases. They are inert, which means that they do not react with anything else. The different Noble gases create different colors. Neon usually produces orange light. Helium makes red. Argon glows blue. Krypton is purple, and Xenon appears white. Sometimes combinations of these gases will be used to take advantage of the various properties such as temperature tolerance or to mix colors.

Both mercury vapor lamps and fluorescent lights operate in similar ways to each other. There is mercury enclosed in a glass vacuum. When electricity is passed through the light bulb, it excites the electrons. In the case of mercury vapor lamps, the mercury will create a glowing vapor. Fluorescent lights, on the other hand have fluorescent powder coating the insides of the bulb. When the mercury in the bulb has electricity sent through it, again, it produces a vapor. This vapor then lights up the powder that covers the inside of the glass. Due to the mercury in both of these forms of lamps, should the glass of the light bulb breaks, you will need to open windows and air out the area for at least an hour. This will prevent mercury poisoning. Even a small amount can cause detrimental side effects, especially in children. Pick up the broken pieces of the light bulb with a damp towel. Do not vacuum, since this could cause mercury vapor to be spread throughout the air. It is not often that mercury vapor lamps and fluorescent lights break, so you will likely not have to worry about it. The mercury is perfectly safe when it is enclosed in the glass light bulb.

If you are looking for the latest in cutting edge lighting technology, look no further than Light Emitting Diodes also called LED light bulbs. The advantages of LED light bulbs are many. Most of them stem from the fact that, unlike incandescent bulbs, these do not generate heat. Why should this be important? Heat is energy, and by not creating heat, LED light bulbs do not waste energy. In fact, compared to other types of lights, LED lights require far fewer watts to operate. A typical LED light bulb will produce more light per watt than even fluorescent bulbs. By not needing as much electricity to operate, these lights last much longer than other forms. Some people are put off by the initial cost of LED light bulbs since they might seem more expensive than other lights, but their long life and energy savings will quickly offset that cost.
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