Biodegradable nanogenerator made with DNA that can harvest the energy from everyday motion and turn it into electrical power.
Many people may not realize it, but the movements we often take for granted — such as walking and tapping on our keyboards — release energy that largely dissipates, unused. Several years ago, scientists figured out how to capture some of that energy and convert it into electricity so we might one day use it to power our mobile gadgetry. The researchers built a nanogenerator using a flexible, biocompatible polymer film made out of polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF.
More luminous and energy efficient than LEDs, white lasers look to be the future in lighting and Li-Fi, or light-based wireless communication
While lasers were invented in 1960 and are commonly used in many applications, one characteristic of the technology has proven unattainable. No one has been able to create a laser that beams white light.
Researchers at Arizona State University have solved the puzzle. They have proven that semiconductor lasers are capable of emitting over the full visible color spectrum, which is necessary to produce a white laser.
The researchers have created a novel nanosheet — a thin layer of semiconductor that measures roughly one-fifth of the thickness of human hair in size with a thickness that is roughly one-thousandth of the thickness of human hair — with three parallel segments, each supporting laser action in one of three elementary colors. The device is capable of lasing in any visible color, completely tunable from red, green to blue, or any color in between. When the total field is collected, a white color emerges.
The researchers, engineers in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, published their findings in the July 27 issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Cun-Zheng Ning, professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, authored the paper, “A monolithic white laser,” with his doctoral students Fan Fan, Sunay Turkdogan, Zhicheng Liu and David Shelhammer. Turkdogan and Liu completed their Ph.Ds. after this research.
The technological advance puts lasers one step closer to being a mainstream light source and potential replacement or alternative to light emitting diodes (LEDs). Lasers are brighter, more energy efficient and can potentially provide more accurate and vivid colors for displays like computer screens and televisions. Ning’s group has already shown that their structures could cover as much as 70 percent more colors than the current display industry standard.
Another important application could be in the future of visible light communication in which the same room lighting systems could be used for both illumination and communication. The technology under development is called Li-Fi for light-based wireless communication, as opposed to the more prevailing Wi-Fi, using radio waves. Li-Fi could be more than 10 times faster than current Wi-Fi, and white laser Li-Fi could be 10 to 100 times faster than LED based Li-Fi currently still under development.
“The concept of white lasers first seems counterintuitive because the light from a typical laser contains exactly one color, a specific wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum, rather than a broad-range of different wavelengths. White light is typically viewed as a complete mixture of all of the wavelengths of the visible spectrum,” said Ning, who also spent extended time at Tsinghua University in China during several years of the research.
In typical LED-based lighting, a blue LED is coated with phosphor materials to convert a portion of the blue light to green, yellow and red light. This mixture of colored light will be perceived by humans as white light and can therefore be used for general illumination.
Sandia National Labs in 2011 produced high-quality white light from four separate large lasers. The researchers showed that the human eye is as comfortable with white light generated by diode lasers as with that produced by LEDs, inspiring others to advance the technology.
“While this pioneering proof-of-concept demonstration is impressive, those independent lasers cannot be used for room lighting or in displays,” Ning said. “A single tiny piece of semiconductor material emitting laser light in all colors or in white is desired.”
This breakthrough highlights new possibilities for integrating high-definition full color displays in wearable electronics.
The scientific team, from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and Seoul National University, has developed an ultra-thin wearable quantum dot light emitting diodes (QLEDs). The electronic tattoo is based on current quantum dot light emitting diode (QLED) technology. Colloidal quantum dot (QLED’s) have attracted great attention as next generation displays. The quantum dots (QDs) have unique properties such as the color tunability, photo/air stability, and are printability on various substrates. The device is paper thin and can be applied to human skin like a sticker.
The team developed the high performance red, green, and blue QLED array, whose resolutions approach 2,500 pixels per inch. This resolution is far superior to other light emitting devices and displays on the market today including ones used in the latest smartphones. The technique is readily scalable over large area. Devices are adaptable to deformed states and thereby built on the unconventional curvilinear substrates including surfaces of various objects. Further mechanical deformations, such as stretching or wrinkling, are also adopted in this technology, which enables QLEDs on the human skin. This breakthrough highlights new possibilities for integrating high-definition full color displays in wearable electronics.
Read more: QLEDs Meet Wearable Devices
Princeton University researchers have developed a new method to increase the brightness, efficiency and clarity of LEDs, which are widely used on smartphones and portable electronics as well as becoming increasingly common in lighting.
Using a new nanoscale structure, the researchers, led by electrical engineering professor Stephen Chou, increased the brightness and efficiency of LEDs made of organic materials (flexible carbon-based sheets) by 57 percent. The researchers also report their method should yield similar improvements in LEDs made in inorganic (silicon-based) materials used most commonly today.
The method also improves the picture clarity of LED displays by 400 percent, compared with conventional approaches. In an article published online August 19 in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, the researchers describe how they accomplished this by inventing a technique that manipulates light on a scale smaller than a single wavelength.
“New nanotechnology can change the rules of the ways we manipulate light,” said Chou, who has been working in the field for 30 years. “We can use this to make devices with unprecedented performance.”
A LED, or light emitting diode, is an electronic device that emits light when electrical current moves through two terminals. LEDs offer several advantages over incandescent or fluorescent lights: they are far more efficient, compact and have a longer lifetime, all of which are important in portable displays.
Current LEDs have design challenges; foremost among them is to reduce the amount of light that gets trapped inside the LED’s structure. Although they are known for their efficiency, only a very small amount of light generated inside an LED actually escapes.
“It is exactly the same reason that lighting installed inside a swimming pool seems dim from outside – because the water traps the light,” said Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering. “The solid structure of a LED traps far more light than the pool’s water.”