for Spring 2003:
Experimental Hollister "Litek" Lamp,1979
SI catalog #1992.0466.01;
Several different compact
fluorescent lamp types were tried during the 1970s. One approach,
referred to as electodeless, held the promise of boosting efficiency
and improving life by doing away with the tungsten electrodes found
in common fluorescent lamps.The "Litek" lamp pictured above,
developed by independent inventor Donald Hollister, is currently on
display in the exhibition Lighting A Revolution at the National Museum
of American History.
This lamp came to the
Smithsonian in 1992, one of three experimental, energy-efficient
lamps donated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The
three lamps were sent by their respective makers (Lighting Technology,
General Electric and Duro-Test) to DOE for test and evaluation of
different energy saving techniques.
The Litek takes
its name from the company Hollister founded to promote his lamp,
Lighting Technology Corporation. Notice the tip on the envelopethis
was the attach-point for a vacuum pump, exactly as seen on Edison
lamps of a century before. The metal fins moulded on the outside
of the electronics capsule dissipate excess heat from the lamp's
control electronics. This heat proved a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Drawing from a 1976 brochure "Energy
by the Energy Research and Development Administration.
The Litek lamp generated light with mercury vapor and a phosphor-coated
envelope, just like an ordinary compact
fluorescent lamp. But instead of using electrodes to excite
the mercury, the Litek used a magnetic field generated by a small
radio-frequency transmitter. The possibility of radio interference
created some concern at the Federal Communications Commission, which
asked Hollister for data on the field strength of his lamp.
Although the technical hurdles proved too difficult at the time,
electrodeless lamps from several makers have been placed on the
market during the last few years.
This Litek lamp measures 17.8 cm (7 inches) high by 8.25 cm (3.25
inches) at the maximum diameter.
For additional information about the development
of efficient lighting see:
- Raymond Kane and Heinz Sell, eds., Revolution
in Lamps: A Chronicle of 50 Years of Progress (New York: Upword
Publishing Co., 1997).
- The Smithsonian website: Lighting