Next generation of LEDs developed

March 20, 2007 at 9:35 AM
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OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 20 (UPI) -- U.S. government scientists are experimenting with polymers and organic molecules in projects designed to create more efficient light-emitting diodes.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Tennessee, believe the thin films of polymers will improve the next generation of LED devices.

LEDs are most commonly used in traffic signals, vehicle taillights, cell phone displays and other small-screen devices.

At ORNL, researchers are developing electrodes composed of carbon nanotubes and magnetic nanowires to enhance the light emission from polymer-based organic LEDs -- those made from carbon-based molecules and not semiconductors.

In early tests, carbon nanotubes improved the electroluminescence efficiency of polymer LEDs by a factor of four and reduced the energy required to operate them. Magnetic nanowires and dots have been shown to help control the spin of electrons injected into the LEDs to further improve efficiency and reliability.

The researchers hope to create a technology that consumes less than half the power of today's LEDs and opens the door for their practical use in household lighting.

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