Monday, September 29, 2008

Well I never knew that!

Machine vision people like LED lighting. It’s robust, meaning that the output declines only slowly over time, unlike fluorescent, and lifetimes are long – >50,000 hours if you believe the sales blurb – which gives LED an advantage over incandescent. But the downside is that LED lights are expensive.

I had assumed this was a combination of high demand – low supply, and low volume manufacturing methods, but I learnt today that there’s another reason: LEDs are made on a sapphire substrate.

But thanks to some clever people at
Perdue University, that may be about to change. (Well not just yet, but perhaps in a few years.) Researchers in West Lafayette, IN, have found a way to replace the sapphire with relatively inexpensive zirconium nitride over a silicon base. This has the added benefits of providing a surface that reflects light in the desired direction and improving thermal management.

To learn more, use this link to the
Perdue press release.

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