Just as the world is getting used the cool-glowing, coil-shaped Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), Seattle-based Vu1 has come up with a whole new bulb technology that's even better… and greener. Instead of heating a filament like in an incandescent bulb, or sending a current through mercury vapor as in a fluorescent, Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) bulbs use accelerated electrons to stimulate the phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb, making the surface glow.
The result? Bulbs that give the same quality as incandescent lighting but use less energy. And unlike CFLs, no mercury is used (and later, thrown out). There's no pricing yet, but Vu1 says they’ll be similar to CFLs — pricier than incandescents but not LED-pricier — when they debut in mid-2009.
Right now, Vu1 plans to focus on reflector bulbs, the recessed flood- and spotlights you might see in a small retail store, but the ESL technology allows the bulbs to be more flexible in shape. So you can have a classic bulb shape instead of a weird corkscrew-shaped CFL in your reading lamp, and still pat yourself on the head for being green. They can even mimic the shape of big commercial fluorescent tubes, currently being used to sap your will to live at work.