Aluminum Foil Lamps Outshine Incandescent Lights

Researches at the University of Illinois are developing panels of microcavity plasma lamps. The thin, lightweight panels could be used for residential and commercial lighting, as well as for certain types of biomedical applications.

A plasma panel consists of a sandwich of two sheets of aluminum foil separated by a thin dielectric layer of clear aluminum oxide (sapphire). At the heart of each lamp is a small cavity, which penetrates the upper sheet of aluminum foil and the sapphire.

The researchers also demonstrated flexible plasma arrays sealed in polymeric packaging. These devices offer new opportunities in lighting, in which lightweight arrays can be mounted onto curved surfaces, such as the insides of windshields. The flexible arrays also could be used as photo-therapeutic bandages to treat certain diseases—such as psoriasis—that can be driven into remission by narrow-spectrum ultraviolet light.

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