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Scientists Built The World’s Thinnest LED, Only 3 Atoms Thick

Most modern electronics, from flat-screen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are actually semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. But, as devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient. And lately, scientists from University of Washington (UW) have built the world’s thinnest LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.


World's-Thinnest-LED

Most consumer electronics use three-dimensional LEDs. But, the LED that scientists of WU have made 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. The difference between LEDs (three-dimensional) normally used and the LEDs (two-dimensional) being developed by the UW is 3D LEDs are 10 to 20 times thicker than 2D LEDs.

However, 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. Researchers use regular adhesive tape to extract a single sheet of this material from thick, layered pieces.

Scientists Ross said, “These (LEDs developed by UW) are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment. This is a huge leap of miniaturization of technology, and because it’s a semiconductor, you can do almost everything with it that is possible with existing, three-dimensional silicon technologies.”

Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in materials science and engineering and in physics has said, “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.”

The technology that the scientists have used to make this world’s thinnest LED has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, on March 9 . To know more, you can contact Ross at jasonsr@uw.edu or 206-543-2887 and Xu at xuxd@uw.edu or 206-543-8444.

Source: University of Washington

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