We investigate thermoelectric pumping in wide-bandgap GaN based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to take advantage of high junction temperature rather than avoiding the problem of temperature-induced efficiency droop through external cooling. We experimentally demonstrate a thermally enhanced 450 nm GaN LED, in which nearly fourfold light output power is achieved at 615 K (compared to 295 K room temperature operation), with nearly no reduction in the wall-plug efficiency (i.e., electrical-optical energy conversion efficiency) at bias V< ω/q. The LED is shown to work in a mode similar to a thermodynamic heat engine operating with charged carriers pumped into the active region by a combination of electrical work and Peltier heat (phonons) drawn from the lattice. In this optimal operating regime at 615 K, the LED injection current (3.26 A/cm2) is of similar magnitude to the operating point of common high power GaN based LEDs (5-35 A/cm2). This result suggests the possibility of removing bulky heat sinks in current high power LED products thus realizing a significant cost reduction for solid-state lighting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)