Radio Frequency Light Sources

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RF light sources follow the same principles of converting electrical power into visible radiation as conventional gas discharge lamps. The fundamental difference between RF lamps and conventional lamps is that RF lamps operate without electrodes .the presence of electrodes in conventional florescent and High Intensity Discharge lamps has put many restrictions on lamp design and performance and is a major factor limiting lamp life. Recent progress in semiconductor power switching electronics, which is revolutionizing many factors of the electrical industry, and a better understanding of RF plasma characteristics, making it possible to drive lamps at high frequencies.

The very first proposal for RF lighting, as well as the first patent on RF lamps, appeared about 100 years ago, a half century before the basic principles lighting technology based on gas discharge had been developed.

Discharge tubes

Discharge Tube is the device in which a gas conducting an electric current emits visible light. It is usually a glass tube from which virtually all the air has been removed (producing a near vacuum), with electrodes at each end. When a high-voltage current is passed between the electrodes, the few remaining gas atoms (or some deliberately introduced ones) ionize and emit coloured light as they conduct the current along the tube. The light originates as electrons change energy levels in the ionized atoms. By coating the inside of the tube with a phosphor, invisible emitted radiation (such as ultraviolet light) can produce visible light; this is the principle of the fluorescent lamp. We will consider different kinds of RF discharges and their advantages and restrictions for lighting applications.

Capacitive RF discharge may be energised by RF electrodes placed inside or outside the discharge vessel .The current path in a capacitive RF discharge plasma is closed by displacement currents in the RF electrode sheaths (whether the electrodes are inside or outside the discharge vessel). Capacitive RF discharges operate at gas pressure considerably lower than atmospheric pressure and are exited by an RF electric field E with frequency lower than 1GHz wavelength  much larger than the discharge size L,(  L).

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