LEDs Based on GaN Could Eliminate Superbugs and Kill Bacteria
11 April 2013
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) based on gallium nitride (GaN) are gaining strong popularity in the market and manufacturers are already using the technology for the production of flashlights and front bicycle lights, mobile phone backlighting and interior lighting in cars and planes. It will most likely take between five and 10 years for GaN LEDs to become widely applied in homes and offices, but it turns out that their potential for being used in other fields, apart from lighting, is quite huge as well.
Researchers at the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy have set down to examine the possibility of using Gan LEDs for other purposes. They are currently investigating whether they could be used to simulate sunlight, which could be extremely beneficial to people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The researchers, led by Colin Humphreys, have developed a breakthrough method to grow GaN on large silicon wafers, rather than on sapphire wafers, which are generally costlier. If successful, the technique could provide for a tenfold decline in expenses related to LED manufacturing. The Centre, which has modern GaN growth and characterization facilities at its disposal, is also developing methods to enhance the quality of light by coating blue LEDs with phosphors to generate white light. During the process, the research will try to further improve white light production by using a new type of phosphors developed by Cheetham in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy.
The researchers are also looking at whether UV LEDs, created by adding aluminium to GaN, could be used to destroy bacteria and viruses by preventing them from reproducing, for purifying water in developing countries and helping doctors to eliminate superbugs.