A new breakthrough could not only boost LED light efficiency by 50 percent, but could one day lead to the creation of the sci-fantasy, invisibility.
Researchers at the University of Michigan want to make your LED lights 50 percent more efficient — and develop Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks in the process.
In a new study described in the Journal of Applied Physics, the researchers describe the development of a new technique that involves “peppering” nanoparticles into semiconductors. This is reportedly a world-first when it comes to being able to cheaply grow metal nanoparticles on and below the surface of semiconductors: Something that means fewer semiconductors would have to be used in finished products. (For those keeping track at home, fewer semiconductors mean cheaper products!)
These metal nanoparticles can help increase LED efficiency by acting as miniature antennas, which redirect the electricity that runs through a semiconductor, resulting in more of it being turned into light. In addition, the metal nanoparticles help reflect light out of the device, rather than it being trapped inside and therefore wasted……
The really exciting potential development, however, is the possibility of invisibility cloaking devices. The theory behind this is a phenomenon called “reverse refraction,” which involves bending light backward in a way that does not happen in nature. The hypothesis of the researchers is that careful sizing and spacing of an array of its nanoparticles would be able to control specific wavelengths of light.
“For invisibility cloaking, we need to both transmit and manipulate light in very precise ways, and that’s very difficult today,” said Rachel Goldman, professor of materials science, engineering and physics. “We believe that this process could give us the level of control we need to make it work.”
University of Michigan researchers want to make LED lights more efficient and develop Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks, too.