Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute issued a press release for announcing the development of a new form of light emitting diode(LED) that produces polarized light. Rensselaer has awarded its Lemelson-Rensselaer Student prize to Martin Schubert for the new type of LED. The prize is for ingenuity, inspiration, dedication and understanding of the implication of innovations. The prizewinner is chosen by the creation or improvement of products or processes, applied technology in a new way or demonstrated remarkable inventiveness. See the pdf from Optics Express.

Schubert et al Polarized LED Properties

Schubert is a doctoral student in electrical, computer and systems engineering. A BS graduate and MS holder from Cornell University, Schubert is one of the new innovators coming to the world economy. It “may be in the genes” as Schubert is the son of renowned lighting and research expert E. Fred Schubert. Rensselaer has one of the world’s most advanced and well known lighting research teams in the world.

Martin Schubert Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize Winner

The value is in the polarization of the emitted light. Schubert discovered that LEDs produce polarized light, but that designs do not make any use of the polarized light properties. Schubert’s innovation then is in the close examination of LED emissions and the resulting optimization of the technology.

Non polarized light is a spectrum or a wide array of frequencies. In nature light radiation is often produced across a wide spectrum from invisible infrared to invisible ultraviolet. Tuned LEDs produce virtually no light outside the visible spectrum, but the light remain incoherent as the production is still many small emitters producing waves independently of each other. What Schubert set out to do was design an optical system integral to the LED to keep the light polarized and much more useful.

Usually light is polarized using filters as photography people are familiar. While the effect is to get clean specific light, much is filtered and lost. That makes the LED properties and the optical design Schubert has designed useful, as the waste isn’t taking place. Many readers will know the most beautiful photography is obtained by the professionalism and the equipment of light management to produce superior photographs.

Mr. Schubert’s innovation offers LED technology to reach into a higher plane of sophistication. With much improved controls in the direction of LED emitted light, and polarization to extract the maximum desirable elements an appreciation of Schubert’s work is more clear. These attributes should solve the aesthetic downside to LEDs, which in my opinion has been a serious drawback to adoption.

The Rensselaer press release offers that the innovation will adapt nicely into improving the LCD display. The innovation’s light produces a more colorful, vibrant and lifelike image and reduces artifacts. The innovation can also be used in a broad array of installations, such as street lighting, where high contrast is desired, sensing, and free space optics.

With patents filed the innovation should resonate across the photonics field both in laboratories and in companies. This substantial innovation will bring better products to compete with incandescent and florescent lighting products.

Conserving energy has until now been the prime drive behind LED development. With the difficult problems associated with LEDs and compact florescent alternatives, this innovation is quite a relief. Adding beauty and energy efficiency together for replacing the current crop of products is a wonderful turn of events.

I also want to congratulate the other people who have a role in the innovation with Mr. Schubert. Sameer Chhajed, Jong K. Kim, E. Fred Schubert and Jahee Cho.


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