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Research Team Creates Nanoscale UV LEDs
A technique to create tiny, highly efficient LEDs from nanowires has been developed by researchers at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with scientists from the University of Maryland and Howard University.
The fabricated LEDs emit ultraviolet light — a key wavelength range required for many light-based nanotechnologies, including data storage — and the assembly technique is well-suited for scaling to commercial production, according to NIST.
Light-based nanoscale devices, such as LEDs, could be important building blocks for a new generation of ultracompact, inexpensive technologies, including sensors and optical communications devices, according to NIST. Ultraviolet LEDs are particularly important for data-storage and biological sensing devices, such as detectors for airborne pathogens.
A key feature of the new nanowire LEDs is that they are made from a single compound, gallium nitride (GaN), yielding more efficient LEDs than those made with different compounds.
When the proper voltage is applied to the nanowire, it emits light with a peak wavelength of 365 nanometers, which falls squarely in the ultraviolet range. The group produced and tested more than 40 of these LEDs; all showed very similar emission properties.
They also displayed excellent thermal stability—withstanding temperatures up to 750 degrees Celsius—and operational stability, showing no signs of deterioration even after two continuous hours of operation at room temperature. These properties indicate that this LED production method yields reliable, stable devices, according to NIST. The researchers say their method could be used to fabricate other nanowire structures as well as applications requiring a large area of nanoscale light sources.