September 22, 2005 – An international research team led by Shuji Nakamura, inventor of the blue LED, has developed gallium nitride thin films with a new type of crystal structure that opens the door to brighter light sources, said the Nikkei English News. Nakamura, who is based at the U. of California at Santa Barbara, held a news conference in Tokyo to reveal the development.
Because of patent issues, Nakamura could not provide details about the method used to create GaN thin films with the new crystal structure. But he explained that the process makes crystals with nonpolar and semi-polar properties that boost the efficiency with which the material generates light. Normally, GaN crystals are polarized.
Nakamura said that the new crystal structure promises light sources that are more efficient and consume less power. The development promises to speed the adoption of LEDs as replacements for fluorescent lighting and for car headlamps.
In addition, the new GaN crystals are reportedly easy to process into lasers emitting blue, green, red, and other colors of light in the visible part of the spectrum. Such lasers would consume less than one-tenth the power and generate only one-100th the heat of existing devices.