19 May 2023
NS Nanotech Inc of Ann Arbor, MI, USA has reported record performance for its nano-LED technology, demonstrating the first submicron-scale red LED efficient enough for commercial applications. The red nano-LED, with external quantum efficiency (EQE) greater than 8% was fabricated in the University of Michigan laboratory directed by NS Nanotech co-founder professor Zetian Mi.
The LED is based on patented technology enabling fabrication of components that will be smaller and draw far less power than existing LED solutions, it is reckoned, while emitting brighter, more saturated, more stable and more directional light. NS Nanotech, which has exclusive licenses to LED technologies developed by Mi’s research teams, is working to enable commercial manufacturing of the nano-LEDs.
Picture: GaN nano-LEDs less than a micron in diameter (left) can be tuned to emit various wavelengths (right).
The results of the demonstration and description of methods used to grow red-emitting gallium nitride (GaN) nanowire crystals were published by Mi’s team in Applied Physics Letters (Ayush Pandey et al, ‘A red-emitting micrometer scale LED with external quantum efficiency >8%’, Appl. Phys. Lett. 122, 151103 (2023)).
Nano-LEDs capable of disrupting AR/VR micro-display market
“Our nano-LED performance breakthroughs have the potential to disrupt important emerging markets, especially for augmented reality and virtual reality headset displays,” says NS Nanotech’s CEO & co-founder Dr Seth Coe-Sullivan. “AR/VR eyeglasses will require easily manufactured high-performance nano-LEDs that are orders of magnitude smaller than current LEDs, and we are on a straightforward development path to get there over the next several years.”
Based on exclusively licensed patent portfolios from McGill University and the University of Michigan, NS Nanotech’s technology is said to introduce new methods for growing nano-LEDs and their resulting structures. The firm intends to bring costs below the threshold required for integration of nano-LEDs into micro-displays and countless other end-products, with breakthroughs in cost and efficiency delivering performance equivalent to chips that today are ten times the size or more.
In addition to red nano-LEDs, NS Nanotech says that it has demonstrated how its technologies have the potential to close the ‘green gap’ in efficiency that currently limits the effectiveness of green LEDs for many applications. In an article published in Nanoletters, Mi’s group described successful fabrication of a submicron-scale green nano-LED with EQE greater than 25%, a new record (Ayush Pandey et al, ‘An Ultrahigh Efficiency Excitonic Micro-LED’, Nano Lett. 2023, 23, 5, 1680).
UVC nano-LEDs for disinfection of COVID-19 and other pathogens
NS Nanotech says that its nano-LED technology also has the potential to deliver invisible ultraviolet-spectrum UVC light that has been proven effective in water and air purification and sterilization of medical equipment. By delivering UVC LEDs featuring the same breakthroughs in cost and performance that it delivers for multi-color micro-displays, the firm will be positioned to enable new classes of anti-viral and anti-microbial purification solutions.
“UVC light effectively deactivates numerous pathogens, including those causing viral airborne diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza,” Coe-Sullivan says. “Building low-cost, high-performance UVC light emitters into the world’s public and private buildings, transportation systems, schools, homes and other infrastructure where people gather will have the potential to dramatically reduce or avoid future epidemics and pandemics.”
Record sub-micron LED red emission efficiency
McGill University grant to accelerate NS Nanotech’s commercialization of nano-LED technologies
NS Nanotech opens Canadian R&D center in Montréal