ECE student wins best research paper for a safer UV light

An electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate at The Ohio State University is working to create a brighter, cleaner and more efficient future through advancements in ultra-violet (UV) light technology.

Yuewei Zhang earned the best paper award at the recent International Symposium on Semiconductor Light Emitting Devices (ISSLED 2017) conference in Banff, Canada, for his research proposal, “Reflective metal/semiconductor tunnel junctions for hole injection in AlGaN UV LEDs.”

His work outlines a way toward producing a high-powered UV bulb without the danger of releasing mercury; like other UV lamps are known to do.

Hazardous waste management organizations typically warn the public about the dangers of disposing and storing compact or linear fluorescent tubes, halide street lamps, halogen, ultraviolet lights and neon lights because they contain trace amounts of mercury. However, the light sources are also important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, can provide over triple the energy efficiency of incandescent lights, cost less to use, and may last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.

In detail, Zhang said their research focuses on a new structure his team created where charged carriers, particularly the positively charged carriers (holes) that are responsible for light generation in a solid-state semiconductor material, are tunnel-injected through a reflective tunnel-junction structure into the device. This creates an efficient hole injection, thus producing a high-power UV emitter where no mercury is released.

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