A recent theoretical study by a University of Waterloo doctoral candidate in nanotechnology engineering suggests that manufacturers may one day make lasers and LEDs out of silicon, a cheaper material with greater thermal conductivity.
Silicon is not currently used in LEDs or lasers because of its indirect bandgap, which hinders light emission. The new research suggests, however, that by stretching or compressing silicon nanowire, a significant change to the material’s light emission capabilities can be achieved. By reducing the diameter of the nanowire, electrons have an even better chance of giving off their energy as light. This mechanism for light emission so far only suggests the use of silicon nanowires rather than the use of bulk silicon, but it suggests a possibility for cheaper, cooled LEDs and lasers.