Scientists develop UV LEDs made from nanowires

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Gaithersburg (MD) - Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and scientists from the University of Maryland and Howard University claim to have developed a technique to create tiny, highly efficient light-emitting diodes from nanowires that could be used in light-based nanotechnologies, including data storage.

The fabrication process described by NIST marks a big step towards the mass production of nano-LEDs. Compared to similar devices announced in the past, these new nano-LEDs are not built using an extremely time consuming process, aligning each nanowire one-by-one: Instead, the scientists are using an electric field to place multiple wires in one step.

According to NIST, the nano-LEDs, made from gallium nitride (GaN), mostly emit ultraviolet light with a peak wavelength of 365 nm. The scientists suggested that this feature set could be useful for biomedical sensors, optical communications as well as future data storage technologies. However, they also said that enough visible light is generated “to see it glowing,” which could turn the nanowires into a general future light source as well.

The research group said that it produced and tested more than 40 of these LEDs. All of them apparently showed similar emission properties and thermal stability, withstanding temperatures up to 750 degrees Celsius. The scientists said they saw operational stability: During the tests, there were no signs of deterioration after two continuous hours of operation at room temperature.

According to NIST, the assembly technique of the new nanowires is “well-suited” for scaling to commercial production. However, there was no information when these wires could become available.