Nano scientists to develop next-generation LEDs

March 19, 2007

Nanotechnology may unlock the secret for creating highly efficient next-generation LED lighting systems, and exploring its potential is the aim of several projects centered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Seen everywhere today from traffic signals, taillights and cell phone displays to stadium JumboTrons, light emitting diodes fluoresce as electrical current passes through them. The most developed LED technology is based on crystals, typically made from indium gallium nitride. However, researchers at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and the University of Tennessee are working to develop technology that will improve a new generation of LED devices composed of thin films of polymers or organic molecules.

These organic LEDs are designed to be formed into thin, flexible sheets that hold promise for a new generation of lighting fixtures and flexible electronics displays. Currently applications of organic LEDs, or OLEDs, are limited to small-screen devices such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and digital cameras; however it is hoped that someday large displays and lighting fixtures can be produced using low-cost manufacturing processes.

At ORNL, researchers are developing electrodes composed of carbon nanotubes and magnetic nanowires to enhance the light emission from polymer-based OLEDs. In early tests, carbon nanotubes improved the electroluminescence efficiency of polymer OLEDs 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 OLEDs to further improve the efficiency and reliability of the devices. A third aspect of the research focuses on creation and chemical processing of the nanotubes themselves. Researchers at ORNL use a technique called laser vaporization produces purer nanotubes with fewer defects than other fabrication techniques.

With assistance of a $600,000 grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the ORNL/UT team hopes to merge the science and new materials research into a new technology for practical OLED devices that consumes less than half the power of today's technology and opens the door for their practical use in household lighting.

"The real, long-term solution to making a more efficient device may be found in nanoscience," said David Geohegan, an ORNL researcher who is leading the OLED effort. "Over the next year we hope to learn why nanomaterials enhance these devices. I think someday we will see OLEDs everywhere, from more durable touch-screen displays to electronic newspapers that we can roll up and carry easily to even larger wall displays for home entertainment or lighting."

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Explore further: Electronics that better mimic natural light promise more vivid, healthy illumination

Related Stories

OLED brings out the shine

June 7, 2013

Screens made of organic light diodes promise unfathomable possibilities. Yet high production costs often prevent their widespread use. A new kind of production saves not only costs, but also improves the radiance of the OLED.

Kodak Licenses OLED Technology to Fuji Electric Holdings

May 24, 2005

Eastman Kodak Company said that Fuji Electric Holdings Co., Ltd. of Japan (Fuji) is a licensee of Kodak’s organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology, and is applying its license toward development of its own color conversion ...

Nanometer Graphene Makes Novel OLEDs Display

March 10, 2010

Researchers at Stanford University have successfully developed brand new concept of organic lighting-emitting diodes (OLEDs) with a few nanometer of graphene as transparent conductor. This paved the way for inexpensive mass ...

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.