Researchers have designed smart, color-controllable white light devices from quantum dots – tiny semiconductors just a few billionths of a meter in size – which are more efficient and have better color saturation than standard LEDs, and can dynamically reproduce daylight conditions in a single light.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, designed the next-generation smart lighting system using a combination of nanotechnology, color science, advanced computational methods, electronics, and a unique fabrication process.

The team found that by using more than the three primary lighting colors used in typical LEDs, they were able to reproduce daylight more accurately. Early tests of the new design showed excellent color rendering, a wider operating range than current smart lighting technology, and wider spectrum of white light customization. The results are reported today (August 3) in the journal Nature Communications.

As the availability and characteristics of ambient light are connected with well-being, the widespread availability of smart lighting systems can have a positive effect on human health since these systems can respond to individual mood. Smart lighting can also respond to circadian rhythms, which regulate the daily sleep-wake cycle, so that light is reddish-white in the morning and evening, and bluish-white during the day.

When a room has sufficient natural or artificial light, good glare control, and views of the outdoors, it is said to have good levels of visual comfort. In indoor environments under artificial light, visual comfort depends on how accurately colors are rendered. Since the color of objects is determined by illumination, smart white lighting needs to be able to accurately express the color of surrounding objects. Current technology achieves this by using three different colors of light simultaneously.

Read more: LED Smart Lighting System Based on Quantum Dots More Accurately Reproduces Daylight

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