Scientists create super-thin 2D LEDs

University of Washington three-atom thick LEDs are thinnest usable light source yet.

0 March 11, 2014
by Design Engineering Staff

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2D LED. (Photo credit: University of Washington)

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2D LED. (Photo credit: University of Washington)

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows. Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs, but these are 10 to 20 times thicker than the LEDs being developed by the UW.

“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.

The UW’s LED is made from flat sheets of the molecular semiconductor known as tungsten diselenide, a member of a group of two-dimensional materials that have been recently identified as the thinnest-known semiconductors.

In addition to light-emitting applications, this technology could be used as interconnects in nano-scale computer chips instead of electricity, which would maintain high bandwidth but without the heat or wasted power.

Xu along with Jason Ross, a UW materials science and engineering graduate student, co-authored a paper about this technology that appeared online March 9 in Nature Nanotechnology.
www.washington.edu


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