Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

General News
Electronic Walls and Ceilings
Modular LED panels

The Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies (ASSIST), an LED industry group organized by the LRC, unveiled a novel concept for lighting homes and offices. The design integrates light-emitting diode (LED) technology with building materials and systems to create electronic walls and ceilings. The design includes interchangeable, modular panels with integrated LED lighting fixtures that “snap” in and out of an electrical grid. Occupants can change the location of light fixtures or introduce new fixtures on a whim to satisfy their needs or their mood.

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New Math: Two Plus Two Equals Three
Circadian image

Several scientific studies have determined that light on the eye’s retina is the primary synchronizer of human circadian rhythms, the biological cycles that repeat approximately every 24 hours. Researchers at the LRC are working to better understand and quantify light as a stimulus for the circadian system, and they have demonstrated that more light will sometimes be less effective at stimulating the circadian system, as measured by nocturnal melatonin suppression by light.

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LRC Invites Utilities to Join Mesopic Street Lighting Project
Street lighting at night

Researchers at the LRC are about to embark on a new project, working with utilities and industry, to develop a new type of street lighting system that provides better lighting in areas with low-light conditions such as typical residential roadways. These low but not quite dark (mesopic) lighting conditions are often problematic to people, especially drivers.The mesopic street light will be designed to reduce energy use and demand while maintaining superior human visibility.

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Lighting Education Online Program Now Includes Residential Lighting Course
Lighting Education Online Web site

Want to know more about residential lighting? Just go online. The LRC has added a new residential lighting module to its popular online education program. Lighting Education Online is an interactive, Internet-based education program for building, design, and facility management professionals who want to learn more about light and lighting. The new course in residential lighting, however, is geared toward the needs of home builders and contractors, as well as homeowners.

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LRC Graduate Students Design Lighting for Olympic Torch
Olympic Torch Lighting Design

Recently, seven LRC graduate students presented their design concept to illuminate the Olympic Torch at Lake Placid, New York. The torch was the center of attention during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, but over the years has fallen into a state of disrepair. The students’ presentation for illuminating the Olympic Torch exceeded the restoration committee’s expectations. “The presentation and the design were very impressive,” said Dennis Ryan, chair of the restoration committee. “We’re thrilled to have their help.”

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New Study Tests the Effects of Watching TV in a Dark Room
Philips Ambilight TV used in study

Scientific literature has long supported the notion that reducing contrasts in perceived brightness between a visual display and its background will result in reduced visual fatigue and eyestrain. LRC researchers recently tested this hypothesis in the context of watching television.

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LRC Conducts Seminars for Customers, Personnel, and Training Staff
Presentation image

The LRC often provides special lighting seminars to help utilities and companies assist their customers, personnel, or training staff. A recent seminar held in Berlin,Connecticut, included more than 120 architects, engineers, utility personnel, and customers of United Illuminating and Connecticut Light and Power. Funded through Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Fund, the seminar was designed to increase their knowledge and awareness of effective, energy-efficient lighting for a variety of commercial settings.

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LRC Circadian Phototransduction Research Generates Interest in Scientific Community

An LRC research team led by Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., LRC program director, recently released the results of a new study designed to determine whether the spectral sensitivity of the circadian retinal phototransduction mechanism, measured through melatonin suppression and iris constriction, varies at night.

The preliminary data suggests a change in the spectral sensitivity of circadian phototransduction mechanisms at two different times of the night. These findings are hypothesized to be the result of a change in the sensitivity of the melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion cells to light during the night.

The results of the study were recently published in Journal of Circadian Rhythms (2005, 3:14). The paper is currently listed as one of the top ten most accessed articles on the Journal of Circadian Rhythms Web site.  

You can expect to read more about this area of research in an upcoming issue of the LRC newsletter.

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute