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Spanish research team creates beach sand that produces white light similar to that of the sun

The team led by chemist-technologist Rubén Costa, from the IMDEA Materials (Madrid) and chemists Jesús Berenguer, from the University of La Rioja, and Javier García, from the University of Alicante, have overcome with this development one of the biggest challenges in the progress towards new healthier artificial lighting sources

The research work has been published in Materials Horizons, a leading journal in the field of applications of new materials


Alicante, 11 October 2018

The high content of blue light presented by current LEDs can be harmful to the human retina, especially for children, and has a negative impact on brain chemistry. Researcher Rubén Costa, from the IMDEA Materials Institute of Madrid; Elena Lalinde and Jesús Berenguer, from the University of La Rioja, and Javier García, from the University of Alicante, have managed to produce a material similar to sand (silica nanoparticles) that emits high-quality white light for a new generation of hybrid LEDs. By eliminating blue light, the sand produced by the Spanish researchers avoids the health risks associated with today’s LEDs. The development of new silica nanoparticles that emit light is one of the most competitive fields and with more applications in researching new sources of artificial light, since they reduce the impact Negative on the eyes can be manufactured with eco-friendly innovations.

Within this field, researchers from the universities of La Rioja and Alicante are experts in the use of coordination chemistry called sol-gel, a technique that enables the preparation of metal oxides with new properties. Rubén Costa, one of the international leaders in both the design of luminescent devices, such as LEDs, and in the development of photovoltaic energy, investigates the properties of these oxides together with his team at IMDEA Materials.

The relevant contribution of this work is that white light has been produced in a grain of sand. It is a new source of light that stands out for its stability and excellent quality which does not damage our sight. Other researchers had managed to produce similar materials that emit green, blue or red so far , but never white light that is the key colour for future exploitation. Moreover, LEDs prepared with this new material present a new stability record well above those previously developed in other colours. The light emitted by these new LEDs is very similar to sunlight, which also makes it healthier. The practical interest of this white light emitting sand is that it could replace the current colour filters based on rare soils such as yttrium, whose extraction and exploitation cause crucial negative effects on the environment.

The work of this pioneering Spanish team has been published by the journal Materials Horizons, one of the leading international scientific journals in the field of new material applications.


Related articles:

University of Alicante selected to participate in an exchange programme between Spain and the United States

UA researcher Javier García wins American Chemical Society's 2018 entrepreneurial award

UA researcher Javier García, first Spanish member of International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Executive Committee


Bibliographic reference:

Cintia Ezquerro, Elisa Fresta, Elena Serrano, Elena Lalinde, Javier García-Martínez, Jesús R. Berenguer and Rubén D. Costa. White-emitting organometallo-silica nanoparticles for sun-like light-emitting diodes. Materials Horizons 2018.

DOI: 10.1039/c8mh00578h.




Photo1. White emitting sand based on silica nanoparticles (left) and the encapsulation for LEDs prepared with this material (right).

Photo 2. White LED manufactured with a colour filter based on white emitting sand.

Photographs by Javier García and his research team NANOMOL (UA).



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