Reinventing LEDs with nanotechnology

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Lighting is a vital aspect of our existence. Nanotechnology is accelerating the pace of technological advances, shaping our world and lighting.

Technology is evolving at an amazing speed. Every day there are new scientific discoveries, new equipment, new developments in engineering, computer science, medicine, biomedicine, and yes, lighting too.

Lighting is a vital aspect of our existence. However the world is fast running out of natural sources of energy including fossil fuels, meaning the need to find green and efficient lighting sources has become even more important.

Nanotechnology may be a new word to many of us but this technology has accelerated the pace of technological advances, shaping our world. It has also contributed greatly to our electrical industry and now promises to start a new era in lighting.


Invented in 1947 – just over 60 years ago – nanoscience or nanotechnology is the study and application of extraordinarily small things and can be used across all the other scientific spheres such as physics, engineering, biology and chemistry. Advances in this field have allowed a huge boost in the development of electronics, IT and telecommunications, and have created all the equipment that we use on a day-to-day basis:  plasma TVs, digital cameras, smartphones, GPS’s, DVD players and recorders, computers, laptops, tablets, and many other gadgets. 

The use of nanotechnology is defined as the ability to see and to manipulate individual molecules and atoms. On Earth everything is made up of atoms — the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the buildings we live and work in, and even our own bodies. So can you see the potential?

The essence of nanotechnology is the ability to create structures with new molecular organization. Today we can build transistors that function by manipulation of individual electrons. Lighting is no exception.

Green lighting will blind you

CFL (compact fluorescent light) and LEDor light emitting diode lights are just two of the most common examples of green lighting sources. Despite that, as new ground is covered in science and technology improves, the use of nanotechnology to increase the efficiency of LED lighting has started to look more of a realistic proposition.

Currently, LED is efficiently replacing lamps and conventional fixtures in external and internal areas. Why? Because LED lighting uses only a small percentage of energy as required by regular bulbs and they don’t contain any toxic metals ( e.g.. mercury) which are used in CFL bulbs. Consequently this makes LED lights more efficient, green, durable, and long lasting.

The standard bulb, for example, only has ten thousand hours of life span. This value was expanded in fluorescent lamps and LED but, on the other hand, these technologies generate a very artificial light, so white that it surpasses what the human eye is naturally prepared for.

That’s why, for example, the LED headlamp of a car can completely obscure the driver’s vision. But nanopower could be the answer.

Nanotech LED Lighting

New nanotechnology can change the rules of how we manipulate light. We can use this to make devices with unprecedented performance.

Passing electrons through nano-semiconductors, also known as ‘quantum dots,’ emits light which has many applications in fields including solar heating and lighting. Therefore there is a huge focus in researching the use of different nanotechnologies to develop more energy efficient LEDs. 

Companies like Nanosys are using semiconductors of remote phosphorous to develop LEDs that turn blue light into a warmer shade of white that is similar to the currently used traditional white of fluorescent bulbs. The phosphorous used in this experiment is created from ‘nano-materials.’

Since human eyes are hyper-sensitive to the colour green, the LEDs have an increased level of green that give us a false sense of brightness, without actually heightening the brightness level of the display.

This helps create an excellent picture quality, but uses only very little energy, making it the primary method to be employed in devices that have display panels.

This is encouraging news for those following the use of nanotechnology in various fields. With this endeavour, Nanosys believes they will be able to design LEDs in just about any colour, which will be a huge leap forward from the current LED displays (as well as in other electronic devices that emit stronger hues).

While the company has created many experimental LED bulbs, these LED quantum dots will firstly be used for notebook displays and TV to offer consumer a wider range of colours. However, a larger range of colours will lead to inferior battery life, especially in case of laptops etc. 

The day when nanocrystals (Quantum Dots) can be ‘painted’ on flat surfaces and create paper-thin displays is not too far from now. We’ll be able to use LED to paint our walls and use any colour of our choice, rather than actual paint. Yes, truly with use nanotech, life is only going to be more exciting and, dare we say it, vibrantly colourful!

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Genesis Nanotechnology – “Great Things from Small Things”


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