One field of our ongoing research is illumination, specifically passive, and emergency light solutions.
The "brightness" of light can mean different things: for example, the amount of light coming from a light source is luminous flux (lumens), the amount of light falling on a surface is illuminance (lux), and the amount of light reflected off a surface is luminance (cd/m2).
Illuminance is a measure of how much luminous flux is spread over a given area. One can think of luminous flux (measured in lumens) as a measure of the total "amount" of visible light present, and the illuminance as a measure of the intensity of illumination on a surface. A given amount of light will illuminate a surface more dimly if it is spread over a larger area, so illuminance (lux) is inversely proportional to area when the luminous flux (lumens) is held constant.
One lux is equal to one lumen per square metre:
1 lx = 1 lm/m2 = 1 cd * sr/m2
A flux of 1,000 lumens, concentrated into an area of one square metre, lights up that square metre with an illuminance of 1,000 lux. However, the same 1,000 lumens, spread out over ten square metres, produces a dimmer illuminance of only 100 lux.
Definitions and units
- Radiant flux (
W(watt)) is a measure of radiometric power. Flux, expressed in watts, is a measure of the rate of energy flow, in joules per second. Since photon energy is inversely proportional to wavelength, ultraviolet photons are more powerful than visible or infrared.
- Luminous flux (
lm(lumen)) is a measure of the power of visible light.
- Photopic flux, expressed in lumens, is weighted to match the responsivity of the human eye, which is most sensitive to yellow-green.
- Scotopic flux is weighted to the sensitivity of the human eye in the dark adapted state.
- Irradiance (
W/cm2(watts per square centimeter)) is a measure of radiometric flux per unit area, or flux density.
- Illuminance (
lm/m2(lumens per square meter)) is a measure of photometric flux per unit area, or visible flux density. Illuminance is typically expressed in lux (lumens per square meter) or foot-candles (lumens per square foot).
- Radiance (
W/cm2/sr(watts per sq. cm per steradian)) is a measure of the flux density per unit solid viewing angle, expressed in W/cm2/sr. Radiance is independent of distance for an extended area source, because the sampled area increases with distance, cancelling inverse square losses.
- Luminance (
lm/m2/sr(lumens per sq. cm per steradian)) is a measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light travelling in a given direction. It describes the amount of light that passes through, is emitted or reflected from a particular area, and falls within a given solid angle. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square metre (
- Radiant Intensity (
W/sr(watts per steradian)) is a measure of radiometric power per unit solid angle, expressed in watts per steradian.
- Luminous intensity (
lm/sr(lumens per steradian)) is a measure of visible power per solid angle, expressed in candela (lumens per steradian). Intensity is related to irradiance by the inverse square law.
Light levels under various conditions
Illumination Condition ftcd lx 9,290 100,000 Direct Sunlight 1,000 10,752 Full Daylight 100 1,075 Overcast Day 10 107 Very Dark Day 1 10.8 Twilight 0.1 1.08 Deep Twilight 0.01 0.108 Full Moon 0.001 0.0108 Quarter Moon 0.0001 0.0011 Starlight
Luminance Condition cd/m2 7,000 Average Clear Sky 2,000 Average Cloudy Sky 250 Peak Luminance Of An LCD Monitor 80 Monitor White In SRGB 30 Green Electroluminescent Source 2 Floodlit Buildings, Monuments, And Fountains 1 State-Of-The-Art (2015) GITD Pigment After 10 min 0.04 Phosphorescent Markings On A Watch Dial After 1 h 0.001 Night Sky