For a long time, light designers have worked on the integration, the design of lighting fixtures and the quantity of light emitted. But what if the quality of lighting was addressed instead of the quantity?
The lighting technology called LED (light emitting diode) has come a long way since its invention. The first LED emitting colour visible to the human eye was created by Nick Holonyak Jr., in 1962. For the most part, people know that LED lights allow great energy savings, which in turn translates into great economical savings. Inevitably, a significant property of the LED is its longevity: it may at times reach beyond 50,000 hours. The many advantages of this technology make it a rather attractive alternative for many companies in the lighting industry. However, what about the accuracy and quality of the light produced by electroluminescence? To this day, problems persist, and people complain. Sollum Technologies, a company started by students at the ÉTS, offers a solution to these concerns.
You have probably noticed that natural light is superior to the light emitted by the common fluorescent tubes. Or you have once purchased a piece of clothing that seemed to be a certain colour in the store, and was another colour outside, which may have been very different from the one you perceived at the time of purchase. These are only two examples of situations that show the importance and impact of quality lighting in daily life.
Particularly, the example of the retail store shows the importance of lighting in defining the perceived colour in everyday life. Colorimetry is the science used to describe how the colour accuracy of an observed object is directly dependent on the light in which it appears. If you look at an object in the sunlight, at noontime, during a beautiful summer day, you will get a colour rendering index (CRI) very close to 100, which is the optimal result. In a store, fluorescent tubes happen to be the most common form of lighting, and these tubes have a CRI of about 70. This is why there is a perceived “change of colour” when the clothes are looked at outside or in another environment. Right now, with LED technology, some manufacturers may be able to offer products with a CRI of 85.
François Roy-Moisan and Gabriel Dupras are full-time entrepreneurs, and currently completing a Master’s degree in electrical engineering, at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), in Montréal. Among other activities, they studied the requirements for the creation of lamps with a very high IRC: “sunlight in all its perfection”. This is actually the slogan adopted by their company, Sollum Technologies. The co-founders created the company based on projects they achieved while completing their Bachelor’s degree. The first draft of their technology was done in 2012, while studying light emitting diodes. Then the prototypes created in 2015 showed the direction that Sollum Technologies would be taking. They then immediately proceeded with the marketing of their various product lines. After identifying the specific needs in the different applications of lighting fixtures, prototypes integrating their latest innovative and groundbreaking solutions were manufactured, and introduced to the public. Their technology allows to reach a level in the colour rendering index that is among the highest recorded: almost 100. Interestingly, the ability to precisely adjust the spectrum makes this product unique in the world. And, as it emits no harmful rays, it is very appealing for many different applications, namely in the arts field.
New Light on Art
Sollum Technologies recreates sunlight without the harmful rays (ultraviolet and infrared) that can affect artwork. The technology allows not only to preserve artwork from the harmful rays of natural light, but also to exhibit them for a longer period of time, to the delight of art lovers. The solution is unique, groundbreaking, and meets the highest expectations in artwork lighting management.
The prospecting activities of the company yielded highly promising results. Museum experts have shown great interest in the solution that was presented to them. Several people responsible for art conservation and exhibitions are extremely excited to finally have access to a lighting solution perfectly adapted to their specific requirements. Some fixtures have already been sold with heartfelt and unanimous approval from the artists who created the works to be displayed.
Although this is a solution for museums, the lighting fixtures are also available to the general public. Interestingly, these fixtures can be adapted to existing installations, whether a rail system or any other system.
Both entrepreneurs are convinced that these lighting fixtures have an international scope in the art field. Although focused on their core market, they can see the urgent needs in other fields.
Easily adjustable, this source of energy efficient solar light facilitates research in many areas, where the type of lighting plays an essential role. Indeed, the method created can simulate the progression of daylight from dawn to dusk. Several studies are in line with the known benefits of natural light on humans, animals and plants. Since plants have always evolved in harmony with sunlight, Sollum Technologies’ solution could prove very beneficial to the growing of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses. This gives the opportunity to practise and diversify agriculture in certain northern regions, where daylight hours are limited in winter.
Finally, several medical fields, such as oncology and dentistry, are interested in this light source of unparalleled purity, which meets the current concerns regarding the adequacy of work surface lighting.
Gabriel Dupras has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from ÉTS. As part of his Master’s Degree, he is studying the longevity of LEDs and the factors that could help prolong it. He is Vice-President of Sollum technologies.
Program : Electrical Engineering
François R. Moisan holds a degree in electrical engineering from ÉTS since 2014. For his Master’s degree, he is developing an expertise on the degradation of artworks caused by light. He is President and co-founder of Sollum technologies.
Program : Electrical Engineering