A team of researchers from Columbia Engineering, Seoul National University and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science recently developed the world’s smallest lightbulb – at just one atom thick – using graphene. The structure may also revolutionize computing and chemical experimentation.  (via Columbia)

Graphene never stops to amaze. Take a look at everything written about the material here at element14, click here. A team of researchers from Columbia Engineering, Seoul National University and Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science recently created the world’s thinnest light bulb at just one atom thick. The micro bulb on a chip may revolutionize light displays, chemistry and computing. Researchers are currently further developing the technology for practical use in the near future.


Postdoctoral research scientist Young Duck Kim of James Hone’s team at Columbia Engineering headed the project. He and his team of researchers took the same principles of the incandescent light bulb and applied them to graphene to see if Thomas Edison’s world-changing invention could be updated.


The team placed the one-atom-thick pieces of graphene on a small strip with metal electrodes. They suspended the structure above the substrate and heated it by sending a current through filaments lining the contraption. To their surprise, as the graphene was heated, it became luminous – even to the naked eye. The structure is essentially the thinnest ever visible light bulb, but its potential for impacting numerous technologies is huge.


If the graphene light chip comes to market, it could play a critical role in enhancing the capabilities of photonic circuit technology. Photonic circuits are much like electrical circuits, but seek to rely upon light as a semiconducting heat source. In order for light to have enough energy to function properly, the light bulb filaments must be able to handle heat up to thousands of degrees Celsius. A chip that was both able to handle that level of heat and small enough to fit on a circuit board never existed, until now.


The micro light bulb on a chip may have other uses too. Since it can handle more than 2500 degrees Celsius, it may be used to heat tiny hot plates to observe high-temperature chemical reactions. The tiny bulbs are also see-through and can revolutionize commercial light displays as well. If the chips can turn off and on more quickly, they may have a future as computer bits as well.


Young and his team are continuing to expand upon the technology. It was a joint efforts between researchers from Columbia Engineering, Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, Seoul National University, Konkuk University, Sogang Univeristy, Sejong University, Standford Univeristy and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read more about this achievement at Nature after this link...



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