Baseball Under the Lights: How it All Got Started

 

Early Cincinatti Reds Night Game

Early Cincinnati Reds Night Game

Major League Baseball will play its All-Star Game on July 15th. Baseball may be as American as apple pie, but many people may not realize that it wasn’t always played at night. In fact, before lighting, the stands for most MLB games during weekdays were empty since most baseball fans were at work.  Lighting changed all that and turned the MLB into the behemoth sport it is today. Today, even kids play baseball under lights. Now, Major League Baseball is going through another revolution – LED lighting.

But first, let us take a look at how revolutionary lighting was to baseball.  GE lighting engineer Robert J. Swackhamer successfully deployed an array of high-wattage lamps to light the railroad yards at night for a railroad. The lighting worked so well that Swackhamer convinced his bosses to test the arrays at General Electric Athletic Field in Lynn, Massachusetts.

On June 24, 1927, General Electric lit up the first night baseball game in history between Lynn and Salem using 72 flood lamps on five towers. Salem won 7-2 in front of a crowd that included players from the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Americans.

The GE executives were onto something. The progress was slow at first. It took GE three years to sign up a few minor league teams as customers. By 1935, GE finally hit the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. The first Major League night game took place at the Red’s Crosley Field on Friday, May 24, 1935. The Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Legendary Cincinnati announcer Red Barber said, “As soon as I saw the lights come on, I knew they were there to stay.” By 1941, 11 of the 16 Major League baseball fields installed GE lighting, including the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today, yesterday’s high-intensity-discharge (HID) metal halide lamp floodlights are beginning to be replaced with LED lighting. There are a lot of factors that make LED lighting attractive in to MLB and even NFL stadium management. It may be difficult to light the entire playing surface with traditional HID lighting. Lighting must be able to shine on second base or the 50 yard line requiring brighter and longer distance. LEDs shine brighter and can light longer distances making them more efficient. They are also more precise, so they can light up the playing surface and not blind spectators. LED lighting also lasts longer – 50,000 hours – reducing maintenance costs. They also light to full strength instantly.

Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans was marred by a 34 minute delay at the Superdome. According to Entergy New Orleans, power to the lights was lost when sensing equipment detected abnormalities. Once the outage cause was discovered and power was restored, the HID floodlights required time to come back to full brightness, about 10 to 15 minutes. By contrast, LED lighting is instant on.

Major League Baseball stadiums have already made progress in switching to LED signage with most stadiums sporting LED scoreboards and/or ribbon lighting. The most notable LED scoreboards in baseball are the Detroit Tigers’ 6,096 square feet LED video panel at Comerica Field and the Seattle Mariners’ scoreboard that measures 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide and covers 11,425 square feet. They’re beginning to make progress in switching to LED lighting for their facilities. Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals play, began energy efficiency improvements soon after it opened in 2006. Facility management has replaced more than 1,000 traditional spotlights and floodlights with LED lamps to cut lighting power demand in several areas by 90%.

For Further Reading

GE Reports, If You Build it They Will Come: How a GE Engineer Invented Night Baseball, http://www.gereports.com/post/81315361164/if-you-build-it-they-will-come-how-a-ge-engineer

Athletic Business, LED Tech Poised to Revolutionize Outdoor Sports Lighting, http://www.athleticbusiness.com/outdoor/led-technology-poised-to-revolutionize-outdoor-sports-lighting.html

NFL.com, Superdome power outage delays Super Bowl XLVII, http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0ap1000000134895/article/superdome-power-outage-delays-super-bowl-xlvii

Greentech Media, Guest Analysis: Super Bowl Power Outage Shines a Bad Light on HID Lighting, http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-analysis-superbowl-power-outage-shines-a-bad-light-on-hid-lighting

Urban Farming Goes Vertical with LEDs

Green Sense Farms vertical LED farm warehouse

Green Sense Farms vertical LED farm warehouse

We like to report on interesting applications using LEDs. This latest application we are focusing on takes LEDs and combines them with farming to leverage unique properties – temperature and wavelenghths —  of LEDs to grow more, better plants, indoors without the use of pesticides.

Chicago’s Green Sense Farms takes advantage of LEDs to make the largest indoor commercial vertical farm in the United States. According to a report in Gizmodo, Green Sense Farms recently announced two new huge climate-controlled grow rooms in its Chicago-area production warehouse. Green Sense Farms combines towering racks of vertical hydroponic systems with Philips “light recipe” LED grow lights.

Philips is building a database of ‘light recipes’ for different plant varieties since each plant has its own needs for light. A Philips Horticulture “light recipe” is an instruction based on knowledge of how to use light to grow a certain crop under certain conditions. Because LEDs produce less heat than traditional lighting, the light fixtures can be placed much closer to the crops without fear of burning them— reducing the vertical farm’s footprint and ensuring that each leaf gets the light it needs.

Using the system, Green Sense Farms is able to harvest its crops 26 times a year while using 85 percent less energy, 1/10th the amount of water, no pesticides or herbicides, and reducing the facility’s CO2 output by two tons a month. And, to make the Earth a better place, it even produces an average of 46 pounds of oxygen daily.

For Further Reading

Gizmodo, Chicago’s Huge Vertical Farm Glows Under Countless LED Suns, http://gizmodo.com/chicagos-huge-vertical-farm-farm-glows-under-countless-1575275486

LEDs, Sleep and SAD –Innovations in Light

Philips Wake Up Light

Philips Wake Up Light

In the past, most people just bought light bulbs without a thought. It was simply about light. There weren’t many extra considerations. Today’s lighting purchase might be made with intelligent applications and even therapeutic reasons in mind, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light can help prevent or lessen the symptoms of SAD. According to WebMD, as many as 3% of Americans can suffer from SAD in the winter. When people are exposed to less natural light they may develop depression and anxiety, oversleep, and even have difficulty concentrating. Some people who live in extreme areas that depend on artificial light during long winter months without sunlight can use artificial light derived from LED light bulbs for some SAD relief.

Until now, most SAD sufferers needed special light boxes for SAD-related light therapy. LEDs are a natural light therapy source. Light from almost all LEDs used for lighting, displays and even TVs tend to naturally skew towards the blue part of the spectrum. Blue light stimulates a photoreceptor in the eye that reduces the production of the hormone melatonin and helps people stay awake.

LED lighting companies have begun to leverage blue light for those with seasonal disorders and even sleep issues.

Philips tackled the issue of the lack of light during polar winter in a town in the Arctic, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where they experience dark for four months straight. Longyearbyen is the northernmost town in the world with 2,000 inhabitants (outnumbered by 3,000 polar bears). For two months, 186 volunteers used the Philips Wake-up Light for a study.  Already proven to work in a number of independent clinical studies, the Philips Wake-up Light was used to help wake up the volunteers with gradually increasing LED light prior to the alarm.

After using the Philips Wake-up Light for six weeks during the polar winter, 87% of residents said that they wake up feeling more refreshed, alert and ready for the day. Philips reported that 98% of residents said they would continue to use the Philips Wake-up Light rather than their previous method of waking up.  You can see a video about the experiment here.

Philips also has designed Philips goLITE BLU to help stave off the winter blues. The goLITEBLU provides the right level of blue light to help regulate a body’s clock and improve mood and energy levels. It is more efficient than traditional white light boxes, producing more concentrated light in a considerably smaller form factor.

For those challenged to wake up without hitting the snooze button repeatedly, there’s the Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light that leverages both music and light to wake you up.  Here’s a link to an entertaining review written by a snooze button addict from Gizmodo.

Lighting Science’s Awake and Alert LED lamp brings more blue light to help people stay awake, while the company’s Good Night light reduces the blue light to help people sleep. The company also has designed the Rhythm Downlight with an app that can keep a sleep schedule for shift workers, those in extra long nights in cold climates and even those in space. The app syncs up with a specially designed digital LED light bulb. When it’s time to begin waking, the bulb will emit more blue light to help you wake up. But when it’s time go to sleep, the percentage of blue light is reduced, turning on your melatonin so you can sleep.

For Further Reading

Discover Magazine, Smart Bulb Helps You Sleep and Wake on Schedule, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/04/04/smart-bulb-helps-you-sleep-and-wake-on-schedule/#.U0K5m_l90xF

The New York Times, LEDs Change Thinking about the Light Bulb, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/technology/personaltech/leds-change-thinking-about-the-light-bulb.html?_r=0

Philips, Philips Wake Up the Town, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wotUrbYs0QI

Philips, Wake up the Town: Arctic Experiment Results, http://www.digitalnewsroom.philips.com/pressreleases/Wakeup_light_campaign/Philips_Wake_up_the_town_Final_results_report.pdf

Gizmodo, A Light-Up Alarm Completely Changed My Life, http://gizmodo.com/a-light-up-alarm-completely-changed-my-life-1535668863

The Business Standard, Lights are no longer just for lighting, http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/lights-are-no-longer-just-for-lighting-114031401155_1.html

LEDs and Location – A New Way to Shop

Location, location, location. Location-based applications have matured a great deal since early navigation devices like Garmin and Magellan GPSs.  Location-based applications are very popular in smart phones. Using the location-based applications, you can tell your friends where you are and can find the nearest coffee shop.  These applications typically use a GPS chip inside the phone or even location technology called U-TDOA (uplink time difference of arrival). These are the same location technologies used for e-911.

The next generation of location based applications are moving indoors. These new apps can bring all kinds of new uses to the typical smart phone. Because these applications are used inside, they can’t rely on GPS or U-TDOA because these technologies need line-of-sight where walls and other obstructions can limit their effectiveness. These next generation indoor location apps rely on new location technologies such as Near Field Communications (NFC), a new version of Bluetooth called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology, RFID and even LEDs.

ABI Research predicts that the indoor location market will reach $4 billion US in 2018. Big companies are exploring the indoor location market.  Apple and eBay have announced that they’re going to use BLE iBeacon. Apple is actively looking to establish an iBeacon program that can leverage its installed base of iPhones and iTouch devices to provide mobile transactions and offers to retailers and their customers. Retailers such as Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters are testing iBeacon.  Major League Baseball announced a new agreement to use iBeacon for the upcoming baseball season using Qualcomm hardware.

How do LEDs fit in? Several companies are looking to leverage light.  Philips is looking at one-way communication between networked LED-based luminaires and customers’ smartphones and a new system from ByteLight that uses a LED light fixture to communicate a unique identifier to individuals with smart phones using tiny pulses of light.

Philips recently shared a demo that uses a supermarket scenario using indoor location technology to guide a customer around a store to gather items for a recipe, and allows the store to send special coupons or offers to customers based on their location in the store.  The technology would operate based on the instantaneous response of LEDs in on-off cycles that could transmit data to the camera of a smartphone using light changes undetectable to humans in the store. The customer would need to download an app on their smart phone. Like the ByteLight application, the communication link from the LED luminaires to the smartphone would deliver location data and other offers.

Here’s a diagram from Philips that illustrates how their LED location application would work in a grocery store.

Philips Connected Retail Lighting System

Philips Connected Retail Lighting System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading

LEDsMagazine, Philips Lighting demonstrates LED-based indoor location detection, technology, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2014/02/philips-lighting-demonstrates-led-based-indoor-location-detection-technology.html

RFID Journal, Retailers Test ByteLight’s Light-Based Indoor Positioning Technology, http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?11474

FierceMobileIT, Indoor location market to reach $4 billion in 2018, predicts ABI, http://www.fiercemobileit.com/story/indoor-location-market-reach-4-billion-2018-predicts-abi/2013-10-18#ixzz2v7TLbqKe

Ice Orchestra Lights Up with LEDs

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

The ice orchestra in the Swedish town of Luleå

We like to talk about applications of LEDs on Clearlysapphire. This might be one of the most unusual applications so far. The remote Swedish town of Luleå, near the Arctic Circle, features an orchestra with instruments made of ice and LEDs. Using an igloo that seats 170 people for an auditorium, the orchestra using ice instruments has been playing music for 15 years in Sweden and around the world.

American ex-patriot Tim Linhart makes each instrument in his back yard each year – from cellos and violas to an ice xylophone, guitars, congas and a banjo – out of ice.  The finely chiseled instruments take about a week each to build, but that’s not the hardest part of the process.  Being made of ice, you need to make sure that the instruments don’t melt when played. They are so fragile that even the heat from a player’s breath will make them out-of-tune.  And, of course, you need to play them in a suitably cold environment, an ice auditorium.

Linhart uses LEDs to light the instruments bringing an otherworldly feel to the concerts.  LEDs are a perfect medium for lighting the fragile instruments because they don’t emit heat along with light.  Traditional lighting would melt the instruments.

You can see the instruments with the LEDs and listen to a performance in this story from CNN.

For Further Reading

CNN, i(ce)-Tunes: Sweden’s incredible ice orchestra, http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/21/travel/swedish-ice-orchestra-2/

Sochi Olympic Venues Light Up with LEDs

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia begin in just a few weeks on February 7th with the Opening Ceremonies.  The buzz about the Olympics is only just beginning.  This week Clearlysapphire focuses on the lighting for the games. Unlike many Olympic cities, Russia’s Sochi had to start from scratch and build their entire Olympic infrastructure from scratch. This did allow organizers to focus on building green, including installing green lighting using standards developed by the Russian Federation.  In total 200 buildings were built according to these standards, the first applied to construction in Russia, for the Games.

Organizers selected LEDs for lighting several key venues including Fisht Olympic Stadium, Bolshoy Ice Dome, Shayba Arena, and the Iceberg Skating Palace.  We’ll focus on two of them here.

The Bolshoy Ice Dome, to be used for hockey, features an innovative aluminum roof studded with 38,000 LEDs. Inspired by an ice drop, the roof will light up at night in vibrant colors like this photo. The facility will seat 12,000 people and will be used for concerts and sporting events after the Olympics. Fact:  Bolshoy means “major” in Russian.

Bolshoy Ice Dom, Sochi, Russia, lit up with LEDs, is home to ice hockey.

Bolshoy Ice Dom, Sochi, Russia, lit up with LEDs, is home to ice hockey.

The second building we’ll focus on is the Shayba Arena, also one of the ice hockey venues for the Olympics.  It features the latest in LED scoreboard technology installed by ColosseoEAS, a Slovakian company and a European leader in sports arena technology.  Shayba’s aluminum exterior features 45,000 programmable LEDs.  After the Olympics, the 7,000 seat Shayba will be dismantled and transported to another city in Russia for use as an ice sports facility.  Fact:  Shayba means “puck” in Russian.

Shayba Area is also home to Olympic ice hockey.

Shayba Area is also home to Olympic ice hockey.

For Further Reading

Official Web Site for Sochi 2014, http://www.sochi2014.com

Sports Illustrated, All-new Sochi Olympics venues a spectacle of lights, ice, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-olympics/news/20140106/sochi-winter-olympics-stadiums/

Sports Illustrated, First look: Sochi Olympic hockey will live in lights and ice domes, http://nhl.si.com/2014/01/09/first-look-sochi-olympic-hockey-will-live-in-lights-and-ice-domes/

 

 

 

 

 

Shining Bright: Holiday LED Lighting 2013

‘Tis the season for LED holiday displays. Here’s a round-up of some rather interesting displays in 2013.

Rockefeller Center, New York, New York

This world famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a 75-year-old Norway spruce, is illuminated by 45,000 rainbow LEDs and features a 550 lb., 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star on top.

Rock Center xmas 2013 2

 

 

 

 

 

The National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

GE provided the design and lights for the National Christmas Tree for the 51st time this year. This year’s tree features 110 LED net lights and 225 LED string sets – all Energy Star® qualified, and 265 LED spherical ornaments. The total wattage is about 5700 watts – saving 80% energy as compared to incandescent holiday lights.  That’s equal to saving one ton of coal, and nearly a 5700-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

National Xmas Tree 2013

 

 

 

 

Trafalgar Square, London, England 2013

Each year since 1947 Norway’s capital city Oslo has donated Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square, to thank Britain for its support during World War II.  The tree stands 20 meters tall and features about 900 LED lights.

Trafalgar Square 2013 Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, this Rio tree is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world. Towering 85 meters into the sky, the tree floats slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) throughout the holiday season.  It features over three million microlights, two thousand strobe effects, one hundred meters of hoses and one hundred LED reflectors.

Rio X mas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Delray Beach, Florida

The 100-foot tall Christmas tree is festively illuminated with over 15,000 LED lights, carefully decorated with 39,000 ornaments, and contains 3000 branches.

Del Ray Beach 100 Ft Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan

The Caretta Shiodome, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, located in the elegant 51-story Dentsu Building, hosts the “White X’mas in the Sea” featuring a vast ocean of LED lights and an illuminated, animated display on the walls of the shopping center.  The light show incorporates interactive 3D projection mapping, allowing visitors to influence the appearance of the video sections of the illumination and the rhythm of the soundtrack by clapping their hands.  Here’s a link to a video showing how the display was put together as well as its premier complete with school kids clapping.

Tokyo Shiodome 2013 Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading

Clearlysapphire.com, The Evolution of Christmas Lights – From Incandescent to LED, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=313

 

Decorating for the holidays – LED vs. Incandescent

The Griswold House from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Griswold House from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s that time again and Christmas displays are popping up in and on homes all around the world.  As we watch retailers like Home Depot and Walmart reduce prices on LED light bulbs, the same is happening with LED Christmas lights.  So, is it time to make the switch?

Depending on your tastes, LED lighting for Christmas holiday decorating can be a quick affair with a few strings of lights on your Christmas tree or can be a large artistic expression in light on your home like you’re Clark Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

LED lighting for the holidays is safer – they’re not hot to the touch, so they won’t start a fire, especially if lit for a long period of time. They’re sturdier and made of epoxy lenses rather than plastic or glass like traditional incandescents.  They’re longer-lasting and could be in use 20 or even 40 years from now.  And they use less energy (about 80 percent) so that you can connect more strings together in series without blowing a fuse (your’s and the lights).

You might remember the moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold turned on the Christmas lights on his home (decorated with 25,000 incandescent imported Italian twinkle lights) and caused a major power outage in the city of Chicago.  While you might not take out your local power grid, you might be concerned with your electric bill if you tend to decorate like a Griswold.  You may want to consider some information that the US Department of Energy put together information about energy requirements of Christmas lighting.

According to the DOE, it can cost up to $10 to light a six-foot tree, 12 hours a day for 40 days using large C-9 incandescent lights while incandescent mini-lights would cost about $2.72.  LEDs on the other hand would cost 27 cents or 82 cents respectively to light that same tree for the same period of time.  Over a decade, it could be quite costly to stick with incandescents.  The DOE table is below.

Retailers are bringing more LED Christmas lights to consumers.  According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star newspaper, Walmart dedicated half of its shelf space to LEDs. Costs are coming down from $5 for a string of 50 mini LED lights, down from $6.30 last year.  In fact, Costco won’t sell incandescent Christmas lights in 2013.  General Electric, selling holiday lights since 1903, anticipates that two out of every five strings of lights sold this year will be LEDs.

So, it may be time to ditch the old fashioned Christmas lights for some new LEDs.  And for a laugh and some holiday cheer, watch Christmas Vacation or this clip from the movie where the Griswold’s incandescent Christmas lights take down the Chicago power grid.

US DOE Christmas Light Info

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

 

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

For Further Reading & Viewing

Kansas City Star, Christmas lights are going green, http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/10/4612642/christmas-lights-are-going-green.html

Energy Manager Today, LEDs Lead the Way for Holiday Lights

http://www.energymanagertoday.com/leds-lead-the-way-for-holiday-lights-096959/

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Griswold Home Power Outage Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWKw8nqQlI

US DOE Info:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/led-lighting

LEDs Making a Difference in Medicine

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips

There have been quite a few stories lately about how LEDs are making a difference in medical settings. Here are a few cases where LEDs are making a difference with infection control, intensive care unit lighting and in medical research for brain disorders.

Controlling the spread of infection through mobile devices in hospitals

The statistics about hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are staggering.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control, HAIs inpact more than a million people a year in the US alone and are linked to nearly 100,000 US deaths per year.  More than 50 percent of healthcare workers admit to using mobile devices during direct physical contact with patents and yet only 8 percent say that actually clean them.  According to Hospital and Health Networks, 65 percent of doctors believe that the increased use in mobile devices in the healthcare environment leads to the spread of disease.

Sensor Electronic Technology, Inc. (SETi) plans to unveil a new line of disinfection cases for phones, tablet computers and other mobile devices at Medica tradefair in Dusseldorf, Germany, November 20 23, 2013. Using SETi’s UV LEDs, the disinfection cases are the world’s first fully portable disinfection units and are designed to be carried with the mobile device as a protective case as well as a disinfection system.

Using LED lighting to help critically ill patients

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips has been introduced into clinical use by the Charité Campus Virchow Clinic in Berlin as part of a unique stress-reducing concept called Parametric Spatial Design. Simulating energizing daylight to comfort critically ill patients, Parametric Spatial Design uses the area above a patient bed to create sky-like visuals mimicking daylight customized to the needs of individual patients.

Clinical research has shown that factors like loud noise, inappropriate lighting conditions and social isolation can increase the risk of patients in intensive care slipping into a shock-like state.

Philips played a significant role in designing this innovative concept.  The luminous ceiling from Philips combines a natural, dynamic rhythm of daylight and the effects of gentle colorful light and visual content to create a soothing environment for patents. It incorporates 15,400 LEDs and extends from the ceiling onto the wall in front of a patient’s bed, filling a patient’s field of vision.

Shining Light on Brain Disorders

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL) are using tiny, electronic devices that include an LED to identify and map neural circuits in the brain especially those that target specific populations of brain cells that malfunction in depression, pain, addiction and other disorders.

The team’s work has been recognized with a rare grant called EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) that funds high-risk/high-reward projects from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which awards only 12 to 18 such grants each year.

The WUSTL team will develop specialized, optically sensitive G-protein-coupled receptors on brain cells that will make it possible to control cell signaling in the brain with light.  Combining these new receptor tools with the wireless micro-LED devices implanted in a mouse brain should enable researchers to learn about molecular and cellular events that underlie stress, addiction and depression.  The researchers hope to isolate and map the brain networks involved in stress by studying how the mice interact in their cages.

The team developed the special wireless micro-LED devices with researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  Many researchers use optogenetic techniques to isolate pathways in the mouse brain, but those animals are often tethered to wires.  The team at WUSTL can observe animals that are able to move freely because the LED devices that they developed are portable and wireless.

For Further Reading

LED Journal, Using UV LEDs to Control the Spread of Hospital Acquired Infections, http://www.ledjournal.com/main/markets/applications/using-uv-leds-to-control-the-spread-of-hospital-acquired-infections/

Philips News Release, Luminous ceiling from Philips simulates daylight to comfort critically ill patients in Intensive Care, http://www.newscenter.philips.com/main/standard/news/press/2013/20131024-Luminous-ceiling-from-Philips-simulates-daylight-to-comfort-critically-ill-patients-in-Intensive-Care.wpd#.UoPhB_mtmSo

Bioscience Technology, Tiny Devices Can Shine Light on Brain Disorders,  http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/11/tiny-devices-can-shine-light-brain-disorders#.UoY5bhqtmSq

 

Food for Thought – Increasing Food Production with LED Lighting

Cary Mitchell, from left, and Celina Gomez harvest tomatoes grown around red and blue LED lights, which use far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps in greenhouses. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Cary Mitchell, from left, and Celina Gomez harvest tomatoes grown around red and blue LED lights, which use far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps in greenhouses. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

We’ve touched upon innovative uses of LEDs and research into the benefits of LEDs with cows and bees, but there’s news that LED lighting can cost effectively improve the growth of greenhouse tomatoes and a start-up is working on affordable LED lighting to help small farms increase egg production in chickens.

According to the USDA, the U.S. is one of the world’s leading producers of tomatoes, second only to China. Fresh and processed tomatoes account for more than $2 billion annually.  Fresh-market tomatoes (not the ones that are processed) are produced in every state, with commercial-scale production in about 20 States led by California, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. The supply is seasonal depending on the weather.

Many producers grow tomatoes in greenhouses off-season, traditionally lit by very warm high-pressure sodium lamps. Researchers at Purdue University are looking into whether growing tomatoes under LED lights in the winter can significantly reduce greenhouse energy costs without sacrificing yield.

Perdue horticulture professor Cary Mitchell, interviewed in a Purdue newspaper, said the average tomato is shipped about 1,500 miles from warmer climates where they’re grown to cooler climates that cannot produce the fruit cost-effectively in the winter.  According to Mitchell, the journey is costly because tomatoes are picked green and ripen during shipping, decreasing quality and flavor. In addition, the shipping distance adds cost and adds to the industry’s carbon footprint.

Mitchell and doctoral student Celina Gómez experimented with light-emitting diodes, which are cooler and require far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps used in greenhouses. According to the article, the researchers received the same yield – size and number of fruit – with high-pressure sodium lamps and LED towers, but the LEDs used about 25 percent of the energy of traditional lamps.

The goal of the research is to reduce costs to the point where local growers could compete with the tomatoes that are shipped from far-away places. Local tomatoes could be harvested vine ripe, would taste better and would boost local economies.

“The United States still imports one-third of its tomatoes from Mexico and Canada, as well as other countries,” Mitchell said in an interview with Purdue Agriculture News. “This technology could allow U.S. growers to create local jobs that shrink carbon footprints and produce better-tasting tomatoes.”

Finally, a small group of recent grads from of the University of California, Davis, formed start-up Henlight to develop a solar powered LED light for small scale egg farmers to light chicken enclosures.  Scientific evidence shows that the amount of eggs a chicken will lay is strongly correlated to the amount of sunlight received per day.

Large-scale egg producers already use light to artificially boost egg production.  For example, the spring and summer typically provides between 12-16 hours of sunlight per day giving poultry the necessary amount of light to reproduce (produce eggs).  In the fall, the amount of daylight decreases along with egg production.  This reduces a farmer’s income and access to nutrition from eggs.   Henlight could bring this capability at low cost to small farms around the world .  Henlight’s founders received a $10,000 prize as start-up investment to launch the product.

For Further Reading

Clearlysapphire.com, Benefits of LED Lighting for Cows and Bees, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=472

NPR Berlin, Increasing Egg Production On Small Farms: A Solution To The International Food Crisis?, http://nprberlin.de/post/increasing-egg-production-small-farms-solution-international-food-crisis

Purdue University, Agriculture News, LEDs reduce costs for greenhouse tomato growers, study shows, http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q2/leds-reduce-costs-for-greenhouse-tomato-growers,-study-shows.html