A light bulb is an example of a type of electrical material that can be converted into a wide range of other devices, from the display of a computer monitor to a light switch to an electronic keypad.
In the past, it was not easy to turn an LED into a display of information, but thanks to advances in photonics and nanotechnology, the process has become more complex.
Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (MIT) have been working on a new light-emitting diode (LED) technology that can convert any LED into one of many other devices.
The new LED is the first to convert light from any one of thousands of LED-based devices into information, allowing researchers to create more efficient display displays.
It is the result of a collaboration between MIT and Tel Aviv University, led by Prof. Yael Shaked.
The team has created a series of materials, each with unique characteristics, that can produce a wide variety of different types of light displays.
The most obvious example is a light source that converts sunlight into light that can then be reflected back to create a reflective surface on the object.
The light source can also be turned into an optical filter to capture and filter out incoming light from the surrounding environment, a type known as a nanostructured light source (NTLS).
Researchers are also developing new materials that can generate light from other materials, such as silicon.
For these new materials, the researchers have focused on light-absorbing materials that absorb and reflect light, so the materials are transparent to visible light.
The researchers hope to create nanostructure-based materials that are used to make a variety of light-based displays, from a computer display to an optical-filtering light source.
“We are trying to find a way to create an entire material that will reflect light to an entire object,” says Shaked, who is also the head of the Light-Emitting Displays Laboratory at MIT.
“The idea is to make it transparent so that the object does not absorb or reflect light from surrounding objects.”
The new materials are the result from the collaboration between Prof. Tzvi Yaron, a postdoc at Tel Aviv, and Prof. Avraham Zalkind, a professor at the Technische Universität Dresden in Germany.
“These are two very different areas of research and technology,” says Zalkund.
“Both of them are working on light sources that can absorb light and convert it into electrical energy.
These two materials were designed to combine the light-sensing capabilities of a light-sensitive material with the ability to absorb light from an environment.
They are essentially light absorbers, with an advantage that the materials can also convert light into electrical signals.”
Yaron and Zalkun are currently developing the technology, and the team hopes to be able to demonstrate the new light source in the next few months.
The research team has also developed a new method to produce nanostormed materials that could be used to create large-scale photonic devices, or photonics devices that use photonic energy.
“When we work on photonics, the materials we use are usually a mixture of materials that have a high thermal conductivity,” Yaron explains.
“Our nanostromed materials are specifically designed to have the thermal conductive properties that can give them an advantage when it comes to thermal energy conversion.”
“These materials could be applied to any part of the device and have a very high electrical conductivity, and that is also important for the high efficiency of the photonics,” Zalkin adds.
The next step in the research is to further develop the technology and commercialize it.
The materials are expected to be commercially available by 2020.
The development of light sources with photonic properties has been a long-standing challenge in the field of light energy conversion.
For example, the technology for creating nanostrips, the nanostratigraphic elements that form a surface on an object that converts light to electricity, has been used for decades.
Researchers have tried a number of different methods to generate light and have found that the efficiency of light conversion decreases with increasing size of the surface.
The main limitation to the nanoscreen technology has been the limited ability to control the amount of light that enters the device, because the material has to be very thin.
“In a nanoscreens device, we can’t control the thickness of the material,” says Yaron.
“If we have a small surface and it has a small amount of energy, we are limited in how much light we can convert.
With nanostrip, we could control the temperature of the nanoporous material.”
This is a limitation that is not present in light sources, because they are transparent, meaning that the material can absorb all light.
Yaron has now overcome this limitation, which is why the light sources can also reflect light.
“I am really happy that we can make these light sources more efficient,” says Prof. Shaked