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February 13, 2015

Thinnest possible LEDs built stronger, more energy efficient

This graphical representation shows the layers of a new, 2-D light-emitting diode (LED) built by researchers at the University of Washington (UW), and how it emits light. The new LED--the thinnest known--can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of 2-D, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use it in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

LEDs are found in all types of electronics from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors. Electronic devices continue to get smaller and faster, and with them the demand for tinier, stronger and more energy efficient semiconductors.

"We are able to make the thinnest-possible LEDs, only three atoms thick yet mechanically strong. Such thin and foldable LEDs are critical for future portable and integrated electronic devices," said Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics. Xu, along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared in Nature Nanotechnology. Ross is supported by a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship.

To learn more about this research, see the UW news story Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient. (Date of Image: March 2014)

Credit: University of Washington

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