Researchers at The Ohio State University are developing a new kind of ultraviolet LED, which could lead to more portable and low-cost uses of the technology.
The patent-pending LED creates a more precise wavelength of UV light than UV LED's that are commercially available today. It also runs at much lower voltages and is more compact that other experimental methods of creating precise wavelength UV light.
Ohio State engineers recently described in the journal Applied Physics Letters how they created LEDs out of semiconductor nanowires that were doped with the rare earth element gadolinium. This unique design enabled them to excite the rare earth mental by passing electricity through the nanowires, revealed study co-author Roberto Myers, associate professor of materials science and engineering at OSU. His team, however, didn't set out to build a UV LED>
"As far as we know, nobody had ever driven electrons through gadolinium inside an LED before. We just wanted to see what would happen."
Doctoral students Thomas Kent and Santino Carnevale began creating gadolinium-containing LEDs in the lab, and utilized another patent-pending technology that they had a hand in developing - one for creating nanowire LEDs. On a silicon wafer, they tailor the wires' composition to tune the polarization of the wires and the wavelength, or color, of the light that is emitted by the LED.