Light-scattering nanoparticles help LEDs mimic sunlight like never before

Lighting has come a long way in the past few years, but even with all the technological advances that have been made, we still haven’t managed to mimic real daylight with much accuracy. We can cheat and use special lights to help plants grow, and we’ve got all sorts of lights that can change their color temperature to suit our moods, but no matter how we tweak it, artificial light still just doesn’t feel quite the the same as real, natural light.

Thanks to a recent breakthrough, however, this might not be the case in the future.

Soon, you’ll be able to call up natural-looking daylight with the flip of a switch, thanks to a newly-developed lighting panel that uses nanoparticles to create something similar to actual daylight. In the future, this might make it possible to produce something close to natural light in even the most dank, windowless interiors.

The technology, developed by Paolo di Trapani at the University of Insubria, relies on a panel of white LEDs that shine through a clear plastic panel studded with nanoparticles that are invisible to the naked eye. These tiny particles serve to scatter the light in the same way that Earth’s atmosphere does with sunlight, which makes it feel more realistic.

Most of the previous efforts have focused on developing light sources with the same spectrum as the Sun, but this is the first ever tech that accounts for the fact that the light we perceive as “natural” is a result of not only the spectrum of the sun, but also how light interacts with the sky itself.

By strategically peppering a clear polymer sheet with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, di Trapani and his team managed to accurately mimic the physics of Rayleigh scattering — the process by which air molecules scatter the sun’s radiation. The prototype panel, which is 5.9 feet long and 33.5 inches wide, makes use of two different sizes of nanoparticles positioned in different sections of the plastic to separate light into certain wavelengths. White light from the LED array is diffused into “sky-light”, where blue wavelengths are dominant, and a bright yellow spot of warm, yellowish light serves to mimic the Sun. The team has even developed different panels to simulate other outdoor light conditions — everything from a bright sunny day, to a colorful, glowing sunset.

You can’t install one of these lights in your house just yet, but di Trapani and his team plan to market the panels through a University of Insubria spin-off company called CoeLux, and hope to start mass producing them within the next year or two.

[via NewScientist]

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

With an integrated spotlight, crystal-clear video, and color night vision, this device makes home security a cinch. Here's why we like the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired as a great choice for outdoor home security.

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.
Emerging Tech

Groundbreaking new technique can turn plastic waste into energy-dense fuel

The world has a waste plastic problem. Chemists from Purdue University have a potentially game changing solution: They want to turn it into a gasoline or diesel-like fuel. Here's how.
Smart Home

Ring adds color night vision to wired security devices and HDR to wireless ones

Ring rolled out color night vision to its wired security products with cameras such as the Spotlight Cam Wired. At the same time, Ring added HDR control to its battery-powered security devices including the Video Doorbell 2.

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Smart Home

Check out the largest pools in the world - and how you can get there

From Egypt to Singapore to California, here's a pictorial breakdown of some of the biggest and largest pools in the world. Many of these pools are so big that you can even kayak and windsurf on them.
Smart Home

Consumer groups call out retailers in a bid for better IoT security

Consumer groups posted a "Dear retailer" letter on February 12 that called out Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and Target, shaming the companies for selling insecure smart home devices.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Walmart drops a killer Instant Pot deal for Presidents’ Day weekend

With the Walmart Presidents' Day sale going on right now, you can actually pick up the Instant Pot Lux60 6-quart programmable pressure cooker for just $69 -- $30 off its normal price.
Smart Home

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents’ Day sale

Walmart slashes prices on Google Home during its Presidents' Day sale. Whether you're taking your first step in configuring a smart home or expanding to every room, Walmart has excellent sale prices for all the key components.

Walmart Presidents’ Day sale: Instant Pot, Google Home, and 4K TV deals

Presidents' Day weekend is one of the best times of the year to find deep discounts on 4K TVs, laptops, Instant Pots, clothes, mattresses, and furniture. And Walmart is offering deals on all of those things and more.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…