Singapore 24th July 2010
How bright can a light source be? The news over the last few days reported about the discovery of a star in a galaxy somewhere far away in the universe that is possibly the brightest star ever measured. Now our sun is pretty bright you would say, but according to the scientists this newly discovered star has a brightness about ten million times that of the sun (!). Hard to imagine how bright that is…
Artificial light sources such as the new LED technology also are becoming incredibly bright and one can start wondering how much brighter the technology can be further pushed. There is a relationship between brightness and lifespan and no doubt cost, so the limitation maybe in its commercial applicability and viability. Because LED technology compacts the actual light emitting point is such small surface the effective brightness is already reaching blinding levels. One can wonder that any further increase in brightness may reach dangerous levels. It is not for nothing that LED is in many cases still classified under laser technology! We have come a long way from the now “pre-historic” LED indicator lights that hardly emit any light at all.
So the question arises how bright an artificial light source can become. We know the multi kilowatt search lights and lighthouse beams as their physical sizes are big and the brightness obvious…a bit like our natural sun. But the brightness of LED’s, from very compact light sources with very narrow beams, is not easy to anticipate for the general public.
It would be interesting to know if there is any limitation to the brightness that man can create from artificial light sources. So far I believe we have not yet found the limit of the physical possibilities, we are just scratching the surface. Just like computer memory and operating capacity keeps growing (it was not so long ago that 1 GB was considered very big, but look now, 100’s of GB is now common standard!) I imagine that the brightness of light sources will keep increasingas well. The main issue for lighting designers will be how to harness the power of light into a safe to use medium….