Looking for silicon alternative

Two LED made with perovskite. Credit: Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Munich

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich have used perovskite to manufacture LED
The name perovskite has become well known in the field of solar panels. A few years ago this material, discovered at the end of the XIX century in Russia, that can be found in several other places, including in the Vesuvian lava, has been tested as a way to convert sunlight into electricity for its semiconductor characteristics. Very rapidly it has led to a 20% efficiency in conversion, pretty high - better than silicon based solar cells and cheaper- and it is now widely used in that field.

Its chemical composition is CaTiO3, a calcium titanium oxide, and it shows semiconductor properties. This prompted the researchers to try out its use as a diode to emit light, a LED.

Physically speaking this is not an exceptional feat, its structure makes it viable to be used as a LED. The tricky part is finding a way to manufacture the LED in an industrial way that is also economic. And this is what the researchers did in their collaboration. They found out a way to create a solution of perovskite and use it for coating, under special condition a substratum obtaining effective LED at a lower cost than today's LED based on silicon.

In a few years, according to the researchers they should become ready for the market.

It is interesting to see how the deeper understanding of the atomic structures is letting researchers to experiment with new materials. Silicon is not going to be demoted by perovskite as a whole but in some niches it will start to be replaced by it. For a complete decommission we shall probably wait for the grapheme, but it is something for the next decade.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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