Efficient, renewable, cost-effective and...did we mention renewable? What are these words? Well, they are words that you hear in almost every single engineering industry in the world today, but these words specifically haunt the engineers who work with light-emitting diode technologies. Scientist and engineering associate professor, Mike Scarpulla has to grapple with these words daily. The professor from the University of Utah is actively involved in creating LED technologies. A recent breakthrough he made, could lead to more renewable, brighter, LEDs.
What he found is, before the LED light becomes an LED light, something can be tweaked in the manufacturing of the semiconductors that allow light emitting diodes to do what they do. The theory allegedly comes out of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, who suggested adding light during the manufacturing of semiconductors. The study could also assist with the building of more efficient photovoltaic cells.
Scarpulla explains that defects in semiconductors alter the conductivity of the material. He says this affects how the technology converts sunlight into electricity or causes LED lights to emit less light than they are capable of. The defects in semiconductors were thought to have been caused by the temperature or the conditions in which the semiconductors were manufactured. The researchers then introduced light in the semiconductor manufacturing phase and now have something interesting to report back.
"We ran simulations of what happens. If you put a piece of a semiconductor in a furnace in the dark, you would get one set of properties from it. But when you shine light on it in the furnace, it turns out you suppress these more problematic defects. We think it may allow us to get around some tricky problems with certain materials that have prevented their use for decades. The exciting work is in the future, though -- actually testing these predictions to make better devices," said Scarpulla, in a conversation with Science Daily
The team is now testing different semiconductors from different engineered products to see what effect introducing light in the manufacturing stage has. The researchers are confident that they could build more efficient semiconductors that power cellphones, solar panels, and LED light bulbs.