This week at IMS 2018 provided me with the opportunity to get updated on all the latest news and developments with anything having to do with microwave technology. It’s astounding how microwaves are pertinent and utilized across various industries and professions, which have found several different ways to make this section of the RF spectrum an efficient and innovative resource.
One of the more recent developments in this technology involves lowering the RF power levels and strongly increasing power density up to 1,000 W per single transistor device. This has led to a breakthrough light source technology known as RF plasma lighting, which Ampleon had on display during this week’s festivities. It uses a small electrodeless quartz lightbulb containing argon gas and metal halide mixtures that is powered by directed RF radiation. The radiation ignites the gas mixtures, which creates and powers a very bright plasma, whose color can be controlled by the composition of plasma constituents.
Unlike standard high intensity discharge lamps, RF plasma lighting works without additional electrodes in the bulb. The absence of electrodes means lengthy operating lifetimes because contamination and wire erosion that lead to lowered efficiency and eventual lamp failure are precluded. The RF light source can reach 50,000 hours compared to only 20,000 hours for typical high intensity discharge lamps (50 percent reduction in light output). Another strong point of plasma light is its efficiency, with 1 W of RF power being converted to 140 lm of light.
Simply put, the RF plasma light source effectively outshines most of its competitors.
Its high brightness per bulb is a significant facet of this setup, which is brighter than LEDs. LED luminaires for an operation like street lighting, for example, will be significantly larger than those for plasma light sources. Considering the high brightness per bulb, plasma light enters the market for applications that require more than 500 lm per luminaire like street and stage lighting.