It's A Sunny Day

Gone are the days when the height of trying to impress someone meant promising them the moon and stars. With this new lighting technology, you can give them the Sun - an artificial sun, that is.

Led by physicist Paolo Di Trapani of the University of Insubria in Como, Italy, CoeLux is a product of more than a decade of research and development for a more natural type of artificial illumination.

Winner of the prestigious Light Source Innovation of the Year trophy at the Lux Awards 2014, CoeLux is “an optical system based on nanotechnology to artificially reproduce the natural light and visual appearance of the Sun and sky."

“CoeLux is not copying nature, but putting nature on a stage, like art does,” says Di Trapani. “It focuses attention on the most relevant feature of natural light—the dynamic interplay between the sky and sun light.”

Credit: CoeLux
Credit: CoeLux
How Does CoeLux Work?

To trick the brain into thinking that it's seeing sunlight, CoeLux uses a clear polymer layer with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which scatters light in varying densities or a technique more commonly known as Rayleigh scattering.

“The effect is so convincing, it touches all those unconscious references the human eye makes to decide if light is artificial or real," says Kevin Andrews, founder and Managing Director of Ideaworks, where CoeLux is being demoed.

By integrating fluorescent and white light LED lighting, three lighting systems are possible with CoeLux:

  • The CoeLux 30 casts a 30-degree angle beam relative to the horizon to mimic the warmer, more lateral light in Nordic countries.
  • The CoeLux 45 a 45-degree ceiling beam that offers an equal balance of light and shade for a more Mediterranean glow.
  • The CoeLux 60 is for those who prefer the more dramatic tropical light, it recreates a high contrast effect with its vertical beam.
Where is an artificial sun needed?

Although initially developed to "provide natural and atmospheric sunlight at any time of the day or night and in closed areas such as malls and metro stations," CoeLux is further being developed as an alternative lighting solution for retail (shopping malls), medical (hospitals, recovery centers), wellness (spas), transport (airports, subways) and residential spaces.

Of course, an artificial sun doesn't come cheap. CoeLux is estimated to cost more than $60,000 for an out-of-the-box system and around an additional $8,000 to cover shipping and specialist installation.

Still, it looks pretty awesome.

Credit: CoeLux
Credit: CoeLux

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