Improvements in technology are changing everything around us, from the phone to the computer to the humble toaster, and one gadget we all take for granted is being improved, too: the lightbulb.
The most obvious improvement to this piece of technology likely comes from the light emitting diode, or the “LED” as most of us call it. A flat chip that emits light, this is responsible for much of the lighting around us not just because it’s bright, but also because it’s inexpensive.
But just because it produces light doesn’t mean it necessarily does as good a job as other light sources, and that led Jake Dyson — son of Dyson founder James Dyson — to find a solution, and to make the LED as good as other light sources.
“When LEDs first hit the market, they were said to be equivalent to a 50 watt lightbulb, and it wasn’t at all,” said Dyson, adding that “it gave you a little blue dot on the floor.”
“That was a really big disappointment,” he said. “I wanted to dig deeper into that and understand.”
In that time — in the six to eight years since LEDs first starting making in-roads to replacing the common lightbulb — Jake Dyson and his team have learned about how phosphorous coatings can crack over time leading to decays in brightness and colour, while also finding that more powerful lights result in a better quality of light.
The result is what Dyson calls “Csys”, and it is a light for work, for reading, and even for home, providing a very strong light that produces very little glare, relying on eight very warm LEDs spaced 8mm apart to produce a light output that seems unbelievable for the size of the lamp.
“Other designers have made attempts to cool LEDs,” said Dyson, “but it’s not enough. The vast potential of this technology remained unrealised. We knew there had to be a better way.”
That better way was to take hot LEDs that produce warm and bright light, and take the heat away by using a heat pipe technology inspired by satellites and computers.
Long stretches of vacuum-sealed copper sit in the arm of the Csys light, and there is a single drop of water inside. When the light is powered up, the heat from the LEDs turns the water into vapour, which turns back into water as it draws away from the light.
This constant action of vapour into water and back again is part of what keeps the heat away from the lights, while the casing of the light itself does its part thanks to the use of aluminium, which acts as a heat sink.
The heat pipe inside the arm draws the heat away and the heat sink of the arm cools everything, allowing Jake Dyson and his team to make a hot light run cool.