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New street light design eliminates light pollution

Posting in Cities

There aren't many stars beaming down at you at night in metro areas because of light pollution - the name for misdirected artificial light. A team of scientists has outlined a new LED street lamp design that could help reclaim the luminosity of the heavens.

A pollution solution devised by a team of Japanese and Mexican researchers was published yesterday in the journal Optics Express. The design is multi-fold. It outfits street lamps with a cluster of LEDs and specialized lenses that are mounted inside of a reflective box covered with a microlens sheet that resembles the shape of insects' eyes, according to information found in the study's abstract.

The effect is a uniform distribution of light on the street below, which was verified by multiple computer simulations that experimented with street light placements. However, a working prototype has yet to be built, BBC News reports. The study notes that more directed light would use between 10-50 percent less energy.

Drivers and nearby residents also realize benefits. "The light is efficiently and homogeneously distributed; which is a requirement for reducing glare, and improving both the eye comfort and the visual discrimination ability of car drivers," the study says. The researchers concluded, "we believe this design is the best ever reported" - published in what may be the least modest study in the journal.

I recently wrote that new lighting technology was disrupting how car headlights are made. Maybe it's wise to reinvent old things that we take for granted. With streetlights like these, cities like New York will finally catch some shut eye. LED light quality is only improving.

You can see more LED goodness in the links below.

(image credits: Optics Express)

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— By on April 25, 2013, 11:55 AM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure