You have always been taught in science class that you cannot exert more energy than you consume. Well, researchers at MIT decided to ignore their childhood teachers. They have created a light bulb that can produce more light than it requires in electricity.
Impossible you say! With today’s current technology, I would say you are correct. Due to the inefficient process light bulbs use to convert electricity into light, much of the electric energy is lost to heat energy and only the residual can be converted into light.
Incandescent bulbs were an extremely inefficient light source. Have you ever tried to remove one of those bulbs when they blow after they have been on and producing light for a while? Everyone out there has gotten burned like this (except those young enough that they will not remember these kinds of lights). Compact fluorescent lights have a higher efficiency rate, but they still lose some energy to heat.
Even after knowing all these facts, the team from MIT decided they wanted to try to create a bulb that reaches what scientists call the “unity efficiency,” or a 100% efficient light bulb that outputs as much light energy as electrical energy that is input. The postulated that as the bulbs energy input rate decreased exponential, the lumen output rate decreased linearly. This means that at some point, the bulb will produce more light energy than electric energy that is input.
“In their experiments, the team was able to generate 69 picowatts of light from just 30 picowatts of energy. They did so by harnessing waste heat, which is caused by vibrations in the bulb’s atomic lattice, to compensate for the losses in electrical power. The device also reacts to ambient heat in the room to increase its efficiency and power the bulb.”
Currently, there are no practical applications for this light bulb since it produces such a tiny amount of light, but researchers are hoping that continued research will produce breakthroughs that could increase the light output and create a usable light bulb that meets or exceeds the unity efficiency.