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Student Awarded for New LED

Photonics.com
Feb 2008
TROY, N.Y., Feb. 29, 2008 -- A PhD student in electrical, computer and systems engineering who has developed the first polarized LED is the recipient of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize.

Martin Schubert is the second recipient of the $30,000 prize, first given in 2007, which is awarded to an RPI senior or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way or otherwise demonstrated remarkable inventiveness. 

After learning that traditional LEDs actually produce polarized light but existing LEDs did not capitalize on the light’s polarization, Schubert devised an optics setup around the LED chip to enhance the polarization.
martinshubert.jpg
Martin Schubert (Photo: Rensselaer/Kris Qua)
His invention hinges on better control of the direction and polarization of the light being emitted. With better control over the light, less energy is wasted producing scattered light, allowing more light to reach its desired location.

This makes the polarized LED perfectly suited as a backlighting unit for any kind of LCD, Schubert said in a statement. Its focused light will produce images on the display that are more colorful, vibrant and lifelike, with no motion artifacts. 

The innovation could enable LEDs to be widely used as light sources for LCDs on TV, computers, cell phones and cameras, and it could facilitate the effort "to combine the power and environmental soundness of LEDs with the beauty and clarity of LCDs," Schubert said. He said he expects the polarized LED to quicly become commonplace in TVs and monitors around the world, replacing widely used fluorescent lights, which are less efficient and contain mercury. It could also be used for street lighting, high-contrast imaging, sensing and free-space optics, he said.

Schubert is the son of renowned lighting research expert and senior chair of the Rensselaer Future Chips Constellation, E. Fred Schubert. The younger Schubert, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell University in electrical engineering, was set to pursue a career in computer chip development. But his father quickly identified his skills and ideas for the advancement of lighting technology and recruited him to join the large lighting research effort at RPI.

At RPI, Martin has published three peer-reviewed, archival papers and filed for several patent applications on his polarized LEDs. He is co-author of 15 other papers on related research, including a paper in Nature Photonics about research on the first ideal antireflective coating, which was featured in media outlets including NPR’s “Morning Edition,” The Daily Telegraph and Scientific American.

Schubert was born in Germany and grew up in New Jersey and later the Boston area. He said he expects to complete his doctorate in electrical engineering this fall and to pursue a career in semiconductor devices and photonics.

The $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize is funded through a partnership with the Lemelson-MIT Program, which has awarded the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize to outstanding student inventors at MIT since 1995.

Timothy Lu, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, is the 2008 winner of the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Lu invented processes that promise to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics and help eradicate layers of bacteria known as biofilms in order to combat bacterial infections. 

The winner of the 2008 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize will be announced Feb. 28. The three winners will be honored at a ceremony in May, and in June they will participate in the Lemelson-MIT Program’s second annual EurekaFest, an event to celebrate the inventive spirit in Boston and Cambridge, Mass.

For more information, visit: web.mit.edu/invent


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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