Tiny LEDs Developed For Dust-Sized Computers

In 1995, I enjoyed reading The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by science fiction author Neal Stephenson. In the book, he describes minuscule nanomachines that communicated using tiny flashes of light:

"See, there's mites around all the time. They use sparkles to talk to each other," Harv explained. "They're in the food and water, everywhere..."
(Read more about toner nanomachine lidar

Now, Ning li and colleagues at IBM in Yorktown Heights, New York, built a new type of quantum well, a structure contained in LEDs. It traps electrons and holes, which carry negative and positive charges, respectively; the two can combine to emit either light or heat.


(Ultra-low-power sub-photon-voltage high-efficiency LEDs)

The team’s quantum well incorporates layers of various semiconductors that allow it to slow heat generation and speed up light generation, increasing the likelihood of the LED emitting a photon at low power.

The researchers built a miniature LED that can provide communication signals on a power consumption of only 1.1 microwatts — significantly lower than that of conventional LEDs — and are using it to make a computer smaller than one millimetre square.

(Via Nature)

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