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