Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are used in a plethora of products ranging from smartphone and TV screens to traffic lights, but they’re expensive to make. In addition, the sweet spot between the highly efficient conversion of electricity to light and the ability to shine brightly has been difficult to reach.
Dawei Di co-invented new LED materials and devices that can generate light from electricity at maximum efficiency even when they need to reach high brightness. What’s more, they can be manufactured using cheaper, simpler, and less energy-intensive processes.
Typical LED production lines require high-temperature processes or depositing light-emitting materials on a solid surface in a vacuum, and thus they use lots of energy. Di’s materials are cheaper because they can be made from widely available substances, and they don’t need to be deposited at high temperature or in a vacuum. Instead, they’re dissolved in a liquid and then coated onto a solid surface.
A number of companies are already testing production lines with Di’s methods. Although these lines won’t be replacing standard production facilities immediately, he believes they will become increasingly common. “The industry is heading that way,” says Di, who’s both a faculty member at Zhejiang University and a visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge.