Isla Vista and nearby UCSB have put an emphasis on the need for bright and energy-efficient lighting. Recently, Santa Barbara County, with support from UCSB, completed the last phase in a project to install new LED lights along major streets in I.V. The project was initiated several years ago with the goal of making the area safer for residents.

The project went through several phases, starting with county workers installing lights along Del Playa, then along the Loop downtown, and on Camino Corto. The last phase involved installing lights along more of Camino Corto (bordering El Collegio Road), Estero Road, Camino Majorca, and other areas.

Completion of the project couldn’t have occurred at a more opportune time. People are focused on safety, and lighting is key to this objective. As people who have walked along the streets of I.V. know, many areas had no, or insufficient, lighting. People had to walk or bike along dark and shadow-filled streets. Now, at least some of the problem areas have been addressed.

Despite the fact that the project took years to complete, the outcome seemed to happen overnight. One minute there was a weak, not very bright streetlight across from my house. The next, there was a super-bright LED shining pools of light as I walked into my yard.

A Nobel Laureate Lighting the Way

In addition to being brighter, the new LEDs are also energy efficient. However, this is just a first step toward installing more environmentally friendly lighting. Nobel laureate Shuji Nakamura, who is doing cutting-edge research on blue LEDs at UCSB, could change the way the world lights the environments.

Nakamura won a Nobel Prize in physics in 2014 for his research on blue-light-emitting diodes and has spent more than 20 years investigating this topic. As you enter UCSB from Highway 217, you can see an homage to his accomplishments. The lights at the entrance to UCSB emit a blue hue.

What Nakamura developed, with Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University and Nagoya University in Japan, and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, was a technique for developing LEDs that is more efficient, environmentally friendly, and cheaper to make. The technique involves combining a blue light and yellow phosphor to emit a white light. In current LED lights, white light is created using a combination of many colors, making the technique more expensive.

This technique is expected to have many benefits. These LEDs are cheaper to make, which will lower the costs for lighting manufacturers and their customers, enabling people worldwide to afford this type of lighting. In addition, the lights require less energy, making them an environmentally-friendly option. It will be interesting to see how this technology revolutionizes how we light our homes, offices, and other areas.

Light is key to our lives. In I.V., lighting has always been an issue. The lights installed along many of our major streets will go a long way toward making residents feel a little safer. The ability to have lights where and when you need them shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a given. With the technological advances being made by researchers such as UCSB’s Nakamura, people worldwide should be able to afford the luxury of light.


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