Are LEDs the way of the future?

Some believe the light-emitting diodes will replace incandescent and CFL bulbs.

07/28/2008


The nation’s Big Three of lighting—General Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Royal Philips Electronics—are embracing a new era of more efficient technologies, like halogen, compact fluorescent, and solid-state devices. Encouraged by legislation and the rising cost of energy, as well as concerns about greenhouse gases, consumers are swapping out incandescent bulbs.

LED bulbs , with their brighter light and longer life, have already replaced standard bulbs in many of the nation’s traffic lights. Indeed, the red, green, and yellow signals are—aside from the tiny blinking red light on a DVD player, a cellphone, or another electronic device—probably the most familiar application of the technology.

A new OLED design could help the devices emit far more light. Electron microscope images show the top of the OLED with organic and aluminum layers (top) and an organic grid before depositing the organic and aluminum layers (middle). The bottom image shows polymer micro lenses on the surface of the glass substrate. Credit: University of Michigan/Nature Photonics
On the other hand, energy efficiency and flexible lighting applications have long been the promise of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The technology hasn't lived up to its promise, however, because in typical OLEDs, only 20% of the light generated is released from the device. That means that most light is trapped inside the bulb, making it highly inefficient.

Researchers have found a way to boost light from OLEDs.





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