More Sustainable LEDs at a Lower Cost

Oct. 16, 2014

Scientists have developed LED bulbs free of rare earth metals.

Though the fact that incandescent bulbs are consistently outperformed by LEDs is well-known, the high initial cost of LED bulbs still keeps some consumers from opting for the more efficient choice. One factor driving up LED costs could soon become a thing of the past thanks to innovative research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, rare earth materials are necessary to manufacture LED bulbs and the materials are also used in most other cutting-edge technology, which drives up demand and production prices. The report, Systematic Approach in Designing Rare-Earth-Free Hybrid Semiconductor Phosphors for General Lighting Applications, outlines a new method that uses copper iodide, a common compound, instead of more expensive materials to produce sustainable LED bulbs. 

In addition to the cost and environmental benefits, the scientists' design solves another common problem plaguing LED-adoption: light quality. While current commercially available bulbs produce light that is considered to be less "warm" than incandescent options, the new LEDs are easily tuned to a warm white shade similar to the color of other bulbs. 

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