Materials Research Improves LED Technology

Advanced semiconductor materials, found nowhere in nature, are being created in labs at The Ohio State University. Nationally, the work is respected for continually enhancing the efficiency and functionality of anything from cell phones to space shuttles. As one of the newest faculty members in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ohio State, Associate Professor Hongping Zhao specializes in such materials research.

LED-based solid state lighting technology advancements, said Zhao (photo, right), allowed many cities to replace traditional street lighting technology infrastructure with LED, resulting in greater efficiency, energy, and annual electricity cost savings.

Zhao said facilities such as Nanotech West, the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS), the Clean Room (SEAL), and the university’s commitment toward establishing the metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) capability for wide bandgap semiconductors ultimately convinced her Ohio State was where to begin the next phase of her career in the field of semiconductor materials science and device technologies.

“We are still working on research to improve LED efficiency, to lower the price even further,” she said. “For example, our recent installation of the nitride MOCVD system at Ohio State will allow us to explore novel materials and structures for high efficiency LEDs, especially those emitting beyond blue and green. LEDs also apply broadly in the automotive industry, serving as the backlight for computer screens. You may not even notice, but there are so many implementations in our daily lives from LED technology."