How did your role as Sustainable Laboratories Coordinator lead to an interest in the field of microscopy?
I work with the sustainability aspects of scientific research, particularly the facility costs (water, electricity, chemicals, etc.). Microscopes are essential research tools and so most facilities I work with own and use them. I was curious as to what opportunities for efficiencies or cost savings there might be.
What are the challenges in driving adoption of modern efficient lighting technologies?
The overall challenge is always convincing users that the hardware can deliver for a price that makes sense. Illumination for research-grade microscopy presents the particular challenge of having a wide range of technical requirements (wavelength, power, spatial and temporal distribution). From my side, I first wanted to know that users were happy with the technical features of Lumencor light engines. I can’t promote something they don’t actually want. After organizing the purchase of 5 Lumencor light engines for the University of Edinburgh I’m happy to report I’ve heard nothing but praise for the new systems.
How have Lumencor’s products addressed these challenges?
From the feedback of researchers, Lumencor manufactures some of the most powerful solid-state illumination systems available. These systems may entail a significant purchase-cost increase when compared to mercury-arc systems. But in the big picture, whole-life costing of the systems produces a different conclusion. When bulb costs and unproductive idle time are factored in, purchasing a solid-state light source can save £8,000–£25,000 ($12,000–$40,000) over its projected working life compared to mercury-arc sources. This doesn’t factor in mechanical cooling savings from reduced heat output of Lumencor light engines, which would increase savings. Importantly the bulk of these savings go back to the researcher, as they pay for bulb costs. At the University of Edinburgh, we purchased 5 Lumencor light engines instead of mercury-arc lamps, saving researchers a minimum of £40,000 ($60,000) over the equipment lifetime, while at the same time eliminating the repetitive tasks of mercury bulb replacement and disposal.