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Scientists Develop New Earth-Friendlier LEDs

Sep 05, 2016 04:39 AM EDT

The development of light emitting diodes (LEDs) was heralded as a quick fix to excessive energy consumption. However, since its introduction to the market, there have been complaints about affordability and different types of negative impacts to the environment.

Researchers from China and Taiwan recently developed a new type of LED that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than currently used LEDs. Their report in the journal ACS Nano provides details regarding the problems inherent to original white LEDs and the development of a new lightbulb that solves those problems.

Cons of White LEDs

A main detractor of LEDs is their reliance on rare-earth elements. Apart from being a non-renewable resource, environmentalists warn of toxic byproducts resulting from the mining of the materials.

Opposers of LEDs decried their high price point. Though cheaper considering the bulb's lifespan, LEDs are not within the budget of all citizens.

According to Tech Insider, studies tied LEDs to increased light pollution, which is a problem now affecting 80 percent of the global population. Light pollution has been tied to everything from sleep disorders to difficulties for astronomers in performing their jobs.

Pros of MOFs

The new LEDs utilize a metal-organic framework (MOF) that is graphene and strontium-based. Moving from rare-earth elements to MOFs created a lightbulb that is cheaper and more earth-friendly, Science Daily reports.

Part of the reason LEDs worsened light pollution is their higher levels of blue and green light emissions. MOFs are closer to the emission spectrum produced by natural sunlight, which theoretically would lessen the severity of light pollution.

MOFs have not been historically used as an active material. The team refers to this new usage of MOFs as a "major discovery" in their paper.

City dwellers should experience increased happiness because of the new MOFs. Less light pollution and a cheaper product both have a direct impact on consumers.

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