When Gary Eden needed some raw materials for his new ultra-efficient, ultra-light, millimeter-thin plasma lamp, he went to the grocery store. The lamp is mostly aluminum foil.
Granted the lamp is not 100% aluminum, but part of the project was to try and make it as cheap and simple to create as possible, hence the run to the grocery store.
The aluminum "microcavity plasma lamp" is surprisingly simple to create. By bathing the foil in an acid, hundreds of thousands of micro-cavities (little holes) are created and a small amount of the aluminum is converted to dielectric aluminum oxide (sapphire.) Those holes are filled with a tiny amount of fluorescent gas and the cavities are all wired together. Then the whole package is sandwiched between thin sheets of glass coated with phosphor on the inside and the lamp is complete.
Imagine a flat panel lamp that would hang on the wall, or be inset in the ceiling. The lamps produce about 15 lumens per watt, significantly more efficient than incandescents, but only about half as efficient as current fluorescent bulbs. But the team at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana say they expect efficiencies of about 30 lumens per watt shortly (comparable to CFLs.)
–1000 Lumen LED–
–CFLs Could Cut Carbon by 10%–