Innovative LED geometry could increase light output by factor of ten
July 13, 2012 // Christoph Hammerschmidt
New three-dimensional assembly of LEDs could dramatically multiply the light output compared to today's planar devices, European scientists hope. The EU research project GECCO aims at vertically oriented LEDs with much higher efficiency.
Already now, modern high-performance LEDs provide a bright light output at high efficiency and are meanwhile applied for automobile headlights, for example. At present, the production process for these kinds of LEDs is still not cost efficient enough and also the efficiency of these LEDs needs further improvement.
The international team of the GECCO project with their partners from Madrid, Bristol, Lodz, as well as LED manufacturer Osram is working on achieving their ambitious objectives.
Up to now, LEDs are being constructed in a planar way, meaning in layers and completely flat. The more light is being required, the more wafer area has to be produced - an expensive and laborious approach. The idea of the GECCO project is to assemble LEDs in a three-dimensional way so that actually every LED consists of a 'light emitting tower' from which the entire vertical surface is emitting light. Obviously the surface of the tower is much larger compared to the ground area of a planar LED. And in fact, it is exactly the gain of light emitting area that leads to a higher light output.
Thus, the manufacturing of an LED becomes much more cost-effective and as a result replacing ancient electric bulbs, halogen lamps as well as energy saving bulbs to LEDs is getting significantly more profitable. Considering the fact that currently 20% of electrical energy worldwide is being utilized for illumination, this innovation provides an enormous potential as far as cost-effectiveness is concerned. In addition, LED lighting is particularly important for future electric mobility. Energy saving is of utmost importance in electric cars.
The dimensions of the 'light emitting towers' are within the micrometer range. This means approximately one million LEDs fit on an area of one square millimeter. This process requires utmost precision which can only be achieved by applying nanotechnology manufacturing techniques.
The GECCO project is coordinated by Prof. Andreas Waag from the Institute of Semiconductor Technology of the Braunschweig Technical University.
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