RTI’s nanofiber reflector offers 95% reflectance to lighting designers

May 23, 2012
Researchers at RTI International have developed a nanofiber-based reflector with 95% reflectance, which can be used by lighting designers to improve light distribution in LED luminaires or other fixtures.
In conjunction with Lightfair International (LFI) 2012, RTI International of Research Triangle Park, NC, demonstrated a nanofiber film that can be used in any variety of light fixtures, from fluorescent to LED, to enhance the effective light output of a luminaire. RTI is seeking a commercial development partner for the technology.

Traditional reflectors based on aluminum or paint typically provide reflectance values below 80%. NLITe reflective nanofiber offers a 95% reflectance using efficient diffusion of light in a conformable-material platform.

“NLITe reflective technology dramatically improves light output and energy efficiency to allow builders, architects, lighting engineers and designers to change their lighting designs to reduce installation costs while lowering operating and maintenance costs,” said Galen Hatfield, vice president of the Commercial Programs Division, Engineering & Technology at RTI. “NLITe also provides efficient light diffusion and improved glare resistance for overall better light quality.”

NLITe is based on polyolefin nanofibers, which are nanoscale materials whose properties can be manipulated to improve lighting distribution. By controlling the composition and structure of these nanofibers and producing a technical fabric, it is possible to selectively alter the reflectivity performance and the light management properties of luminaires.

According to Hatfiled, NLITe reflective technology has been shown to improve lumen output of the luminaire by 20-40% in specific applications. In a side-by-side comparison using the same LED flash light without and with NLITe reflector (see picture), light is more evenly diffused than with a traditional aluminum reflector. In addition, the material can be adapted to various geometries of existing luminaires. The fabric is conformal and can be produced using a roll-to-roll method for volume applications.

RTI’s development of NLITe has been funded in part by the US Department of Energy. In 2011, NLITe was recognized with an R&D100 Award from R&D magazine, identifying it as a technologically significant product.