Experimental Sulphur-Selenium Lamp

In the mid-1990s Fusion Lighting began selling a microwave-powered lighting system. The small, spherical bulbs contained a small amount of the element sulfur that gave a large amount of good quality light when energized by microwaves. Company researchers began investigating other materials to learn more about their new light source and perhaps to discover another saleable product.
The lamp is from one of those follow-on experiments and contains a mix of sulfur and another element, selenium. Both elements have related properties. Chemists refer to them as Group VI elements since they appear in the same column of the Periodic Table. Fusion researchers felt that these related elements might work well together in the new system. The company donated two other sulfur-selenium lamps from the same experiment that contain mixtures with differing ratios of the two elements.
Lamp characteristics: A quartz stem with a notched metal sleeve near the bottom serves as the base. The notch locks the lamp into its fixture. The sphere has an argon gas filling with a tiny amount of Krypton-85 to help start the discharge. The orange material condensed on the inner wall is an equal mix of sulfur and selenium. The pattern of condensation indicates lamp was burned vertically. Tipless, G-shaped quartz envelope.
Object Name
discharge lamp
Date made
Fusion Lighting, Inc.
Physical Description
sulfur / selenium (overall material)
quartz (overall material)
metal (part material)
overall: 5 3/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 14.605 cm x 3.81 cm
Place Made
United States: Maryland, Rockville
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Energy & Power
Industry & Manufacturing
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Fusion Lighting Inc.
Turner, B. P.; Ury, M. G.; Leng, Y.; Love, W.G.. Sulfur Lamps -- Progress In Their Development
Publication title
Lighting A Revolution
Publication URL

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