New LED structures that provide increased light extraction efficiency while retaining a planar structure.
As semiconductor materials have improved, the efficiency of semiconductor devices has also improved and new wavelength ranges have been used. Gallium nitride (GaN) based light emitters are probably the most promising for a variety of applications. GaN provides efficient illumination in the ultraviolet (UV) to amber spectrum, when alloyed with varying concentrates of indium (In), for example. Unfortunately, most of the light emitted within a semiconductor LED material is lost due to total internal reflection at the semiconductor-air interface. Typical semiconductor materials have a high index of refraction, and thus, according to Snell's law, most of the light will remain trapped in the materials, thereby degrading efficiency. By choosing a suitable geometry for the LED, a higher extraction efficiency can be achieved.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed new LED structures that provide increased light extraction efficiency while retaining a planar structure. The new LED structures provide direct emissions outside the structure and, in addition, convert guided light into extracted light using a diffraction grating. This grating may be placed outside the current-injected region of the active layer, or current may be injected into the grating region. Moreover, the diffraction grating is comprised of an array of holes, which may be pierced into the emitting species of the active layer, or only in other layers of the LED. The diffraction grating is a two-dimensional photonic crystal extractor, and the present invention provides improvements over previous implementations of photonic crystal extractors. The efficiency of the new LED structure is due to the fact that guided light is only (or mostly) emitted into guided modes that will be interacting with the photonic crystal, so that the many guided modes that are usually lost are diffracted outside the device. This is especially important in the case of an LED that supports numerous guided modes, such as a nitride-materials-based LED (which usually has to be several microns thick due to material growth considerations). The new LED structure retains a planar single layer structure making it easily manufacturable at low cost.
This technology is available for licensing.
|United States Of America||Issued Patent||7,776,629||08/17/2010||2005-198|
|United States Of America||Issued Patent||7,582,910||09/01/2009||2005-198|
LED, indssl, indled, photonic crystal, indphoto, cenIEE