Researchers Developing Heavy Metal-Free LEDs

A new design for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) could fundamentally change the way that these useful technologies are utilized. Known as silicon-based LEDs (SiLEDs), these light sources don't require the use of environmentally dangerous heavy metals that are currently used to manufacture the devices. 

The SiLED was developed by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany and Canada's University of Toronto, according to green news source EarthTechhling. The collaboration was detailed in a report published by Nano Letters, a nanotechnology journal, earlier this year. 

There are two primary benefits awarded by the use of SiLEDS. First and foremost, substances such as arsenic and cadmium selenide, which pose a significant risk to the environment during production, are completely avoided. Instead, the designers turned to silicon for its high conductivity. Similarly, the new materials enable the devices to be far more energy efficient than ever before, as well as less expensive.

"With the liquid-processed silicon LEDs that may potentially be produced on large areas as well as at low costs, the nano particle community enters new territory, the associated potentials of which can hardly be estimated today. But presumably, textbooks about semiconductor components have to be rewritten," Geoffrey Ozin, a KIT professor and co-author of the SiLED study.

Florian Maier-Flaig, another researcher at the KIT, said in a press release that the design also affords more durability, meaning that these devices could one day be utilized in outdoor lighting fixtures that have to withstand inclement weather.

Due to the fact that this product is still in the testing phase, it may be some time before you are able to purchase an SiLED off the shelf at your local home improvement store. However, this development shows that the technology that powers and lights our world is capable of changing every day. 

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