Tiny Light Bulbs Containing Graphene Filaments Are Finally Here

Ahmed Bilal
Posted Jun 18, 2015
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Researchers have finally accomplished the first ever production of visible light by using graphene as a filament. This is world’s tiniest bulb ever produced up till now. This has been a long journey since researchers were working on the light sourcing projects for decades in order to produce a light source which can be small enough to fit on a silicon chip. This was mainly emphasized because this will help constructing super-fast computers that will process light rather than electricity. This all can be done by using graphene alone since it’s exceedingly flexible and thin in nature.

“We’ve created what is essentially the world’s thinnest light bulb,’ one of the research leaders, James Hone, from Columbia University in the US, said in a press release. “This new type of ‘broadband’ light emitter can be integrated into chips and will pave the way towards the realisation of atomically thin, flexible, and transparent displays, and graphene-based on-chip optical communications.”

This will be the future of information flow in upcoming technology

Researchers from South Korea along with Hone’s team worked on this project and made the chip through a process in which tiny metal electrodes were made to attach to one-atom thick strips of graphene suspended on a silicon chip. These electrodes in turn, heat the graphene up to 2500 degrees Celsius. This allows it to produce light so bright that it is easily visible with the naked eye even when it’s extremely tiny in size and shape. This in contrast to other metals doesn’t cause extra heat to produce that can break wires and the chip altogether.

However graphene has some potential disadvantages as well, graphene becomes a poor conductor of heat as the heat it gains increase after a certain limit, which explains that the heat stays in a hot spot along the suspended graphene strips without being harmful to the rest of the chip.

“These unique thermal properties allow us to heat the suspended graphene up to half of temperature of the Sun, and improve efficiency 1,000 times, as compared to graphene on a solid substrate,” explained one of the team members, Myung-Ho Bae.

Wavelengths of light produced was also showed to vary which was shown dependent on the distance between the silicon and graphene. Which was made to explain that they can be tune the light in order to expand its bandwidth.

“This is only possible because graphene is transparent, unlike any conventional filament, and allows us to tune the emission spectrum by changing the distance to the substrate,” said lead researcher Young Duck Kim. “We are just starting to dream about other uses for these structures, for example as micro-hotplates that can be heated to thousands of degrees in a fraction of second to study high-temperature chemical reactions or catalysis,” said Hone.

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