New material could slash LED costs

Researchers at Cambridge and Oxford universities have demonstrated a new way of making LEDs that could eventually slash manufacturing costs.

Along with scientists from Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, the team built high brightness light emitting diodes (LEDs) from perovskite, a material that has also shown great promise as a replacement for silicon in solar cells, the University of Cambridge said in a press release.

Perovskites are named after the mineral by the same name with which they share distinctive cuboid and diamond shaped crystal structures. In this case the crew built 'organometal halide perovskites' from a mixture of lead, carbon-based ions and halogen ions. The release explained:

'The perovskite LEDs are made using a simple and scalable process in which a perovskite solution is prepared and spin-coated onto the substrate. This process does not require high temperature heating steps or a high vacuum, and is therefore cheap to manufacture in a large scale. In contrast, conventional methods for manufacturing LEDs make the cost prohibitive for many large-area display applications.'

'It’s remarkable that this material can be easily tuned to emit light in a variety of colours, which makes it extremely useful for colour displays, lighting and optical communication applications,” said Cambridge PhD student Zhi-Kuang Tan, the lead author of a paper describing the development and published in Nature Nanotechnology . 'This technology could provide a lot of value to the ever growing flat-panel display industry.'

The team's next step is to increase the LEDs' efficiency. It anticipates commercial availability in about five years.

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Photo: Percolating perovskite. Inside its famed Cavendish Laboratory (pictured), Cambridge is cooking up LED advances using perovskite material. Image is from the University of Cambridge via Flickr. 

 

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