Just when you thought LEDs reached their peak, a team of physicists from the University of Utah have invented a new “spintronic” OLED (organic light-emitting diode) that’s touted to be cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and more importantly, brighter than the crop of LEDs now integrated into computer screens, televisions, traffic lights, general purpose lighting and other electronic devices.
According to University of Utah professor of physics and senior author of the study on the new OLEDs, Z. Valy Vardeny, the new OLEDs are an entirely different technology from what we see today. And with the way things are going, the new organic light-emitting diodes have the potential to be even brighter than the already promising line-up of OLEDs on the market.
So far, the Utah physicists have finished creating a prototype of the new LED, technically known as a spin-polarised OLED or spin OLED, which produces an orange glow. Vardeny is optimistic in predicting that in the next two years, the new technology will grow to include OLEDs that produce a blue and red colour, as well as spin OLEDs that emit a white colour.
Compared to ordinary LEDs, which use a typical semiconductor to produce a coloured glow, OLEDs use an organic “plastic” semiconductor, to create light. The new kind of spin OLEDs developed by the Utah scientists also make use of an organic polymer, but instead of storing data based on electron electrical charges, they use a “spintronic” device. In layman’s terms, the spin OLED stores data through the use of the electrons’ ”spins.”
There is however, a catch to these spin OLEDs. Because the new LEDs operate at temperatures of no warmer than minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the physicists must first develop a way so they can run at room temperature, something Vardeny believes will take a few years.