Of all the electricity generated in the U.S., more than quarter is consumed by lighting. In 2010, North Carolina’s RTI International launched a new product, NLite, intended to help alleviate this burden by improving the reflectance performance of power-intensive lighting devices such as luminaires and liquid crystal displays. The technology, based on nanofiber reflectance polymers, won a 2011 R&D 100 Award.
The technology is based on a flexible substrate formed from polymer nanofibers in a roll-to-roll process. Each polymer nanofiber is at least 1-cm long and has a diameter of 100 to 500 nm. The surface morphology of the nanofiber can be adjusted to provide features such as pores that have dimensions of 50 to 200 nm. Because the wavelength of visible light ranges from 380 to 760 nm, the size of these features makes them excellent scatterers of visible radiation.
Conventional reflectance products offer an efficiency typically below 85%. Luminaires that incorporate the NLITe technology can produce 20% more light with no additional energy. NLITe technology can be further modified to adjust the color palette of the light to match the desired application.
R&D 100 Award: Nanofibers shine in new light design