COLLEGE PARK, MD, April 7, 2009 -- Roughly 20 percent of the electricity consumed worldwide is used to light homes, businesses, and other private and public spaces. Though this consumption represents a large drain on resources, it also presents a tremendous opportunity for savings. Improving the efficiency of commercially available light bulbs -- even a little -- could translate into dramatically lower energy usage if implemented widely.
In the latest issue of Journal of Applied Physics, published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), a group of scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences is reporting an important step towards that goal with their development of a new type of light emitting diode (LED) made from inexpensive, plastic like organic materials. Designed with a simplified "tandem" structure, it can produce twice as much light as a normal LED -- including the white light desired for home and office lighting.
"This work is important because it is the realization of rather high efficiency white emission by a tandem structure," says Dongge Ma (firstname.lastname@example.org), who led the research with his colleagues at the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Found in everything from brake lights to computer displays, LEDs are more environmentally friendly and much more efficient than other types of light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs produce light by sending electricity through a thin metal filament that glows red hot. Only about five percent of the energy is turned into light, however. The rest is wasted as heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs, which send electricity through a gas inside a tube, tend to do much better. They typically turn 20 percent or more of the electricity pumped through them into light. But compact fluorescents also contain small amounts of mercury vapor, an environmental toxin.
LEDs on the other hand, are made from thin wafers of material flanked by electrode
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American Institute of Physics