Bright future for LED lighting

German researchers boost efficiency of high-power light emitting diodes

New LEDs could mean lighter cheaper green tellies

LED lights use a fraction of the energy of old-fashioned incandescent bulbs to deliver the same brightness - but only at low power levels.

Pump more power into LEDs and their efficiency drops off sharply - a problem dubbed 'the LED droop'.

But now researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Germany have demonstrated a new type of light emitting diode with significantly improved lighting performance and energy efficiency.

Embarrassing droop

The team discovered the electron leakage that cause the droop can be strongly reduced by introducing a new quantum-barrier design.

The new polarization-matched LED, developed in collaboration with Samsung Electro-Mechanics, exhibits a 22 percent increase in wall-plug efficiency - meaning brighter LEDs using less energy.

The applications for the new technology should work on all LEDs but will be particularly useful for ultra-bright lights such as car headlamps and street lighting.