Seeing people wearing amber glasses (meant to help block the harmful effects of the blue light from devices and lightbulbs) has become more commonplace than just a few years ago, when it was usually reserved for times when direct computer work was taking place. Since it’s getting harder and harder to avoid blue light entirely, many people have taken to wearing them constantly to prevent the disturbances in circadian rhythms and eye damage that can be caused by the blue light wavelength.
In a vicious cycle, people replaced the older form of lightbulbs (incandescent) with the more energy-friendly LED bulbs. The LED bulbs are an unfortunate culprit of blue light wavelengths—and that’s the type of lightbulb that you can’t avoid everywhere. A new study from the American Chemical Society is working on a new kind of LED bulb that seems to work around this issue and hopefully reduce the blue light while keeping environmentally friendly practices.
One of the main problems with LED bulbs is that they use a chip which turns electrical currents into light but produce ultraviolet and blue wavelength light. Coupled with a component of the LED bulb is a cap that goes over this chip which takes all the UV and blue and violet lights and turns it into the bright white or yellow tints to light bulbs that we all know. It’s these blue LEDs and the caps that are meant to produce the yellow light that are the problem.
Researchers at the American Chemical Society found that previous versions of better-for-you LED bulbs that are marketed for warmer light or for use at night replaced that yellow-light cap with a red-light cap, but it didn’t take away the blue light; it only disguised it.
Instead, scientists turned to using a violet LED–instead of blue–that had a cap meant to turn the light into bright light via red and green colors. This preserved the appearance of the bright light but minimized the blue light wavelength, a first for light technology which is aimed at preserving energy efficiency and mitigating the risks to health.
It probably won’t hit the shelves soon, though; researchers are still developing the technology, so keep your eyes on the lookout in the coming years (and your amber glasses on!).
Shruti Hariyani, Jakoah Brgoch. Advancing Human-Centric LED Lighting Using Na2MgPO4F:Eu2. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2021; 13 (14): 16669 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.1c00909