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Engineering better lighting

During the darkest days of the year artificial lighting is more important than ever.

As the government works to phase out the inefficient incandescent bulb, the energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode) has started to take on a more prominent role in lighting systems.

Upstate New York has played a significant part in this emerging technology. The world’s first visible LED was actually demonstrated 50 years ago at a General Electric lab in Syracuse. Now researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center in Troy are using LEDs to develop lighting systems that can further cut energy costs and do a better job of mimicking natural daylight.

For example, scientists know that people tend to work better under blue colored light and relax better with red light. The RPI researchers are also studying fruit flies in an attempt to better understand our own individualized circadian rhythms. They’re working on creating a more nuanced and personalized system of light therapy that could also help people who work odd hours in changing light conditions, like members of the military or jet-lagged air travelers.

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