Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the most efficient and environmentally friendly light bulbs on the market. But they come at a higher up-front price than other bulbs, especially the ones with warmer and more appealing hues.
Researchers at the University of Washington have created a material they say would make LED bulbs cheaper and greener to manufacture, driving down the price. Their silicon-based nanoparticles soften the blue light emitted by LEDs, creating white light that more closely resembles sunlight.
The company, LumiSands, started as a graduate student project for CEO Chang-Ching Tu, who received his doctorate in electrical engineering at the UW and just completed a stint as a postdoctoral researcher in materials science and engineering. This spring, the start-up company spun out from the UW Center for Commercialization, a process that its two founders hope will lead to signing a commercialization license for the technology.
LEDs give off light when electrons move through a semiconductor material. They are more efficient than standard incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, but they’re also pricier. That’s partly because within each LED lamp, expensive substances known as rare-earth-element phosphors help to soften the harsh blue light that LEDs naturally emit.
But these rare-earth elements are hazardous to extract and process. China controls nearly all of the market for these materials, which has quadrupled the average price for the past several years.
That’s where LumiSands comes in.