We encounter light-emitting diodes on a daily basis as indicator lights on our smartphones, on the screens of our flat-panel TVs and in the latest energy-efficient light bulbs. Yuji Zhao thought he could make them work better and do more than simply shine a light.
The electrical engineering professor at Arizona State University proposed that by developing “smart” LEDs, the devices could heal wounds and even replace existing Wi-Fi technology with light-based “Li-Fi” wireless communication capable of 10,000 times higher capacity bandwidth.
In 2015, this was a risky proposal involving a new and relatively untested area of research in photonics and LEDs. Luckily for Zhao, his first proposal as an ASU faculty member was accepted by the Science Foundation Arizona Bisgrove Scholar program, which funded his research.
The Bisgrove Scholar program aims to attract and retain notable, early career faculty members in Arizona who have “the potential to transform ideas into great value for society.”
“This program recognized the high scientific merits and potential impact of our proposal and made this exciting research a reality,” says Zhao, a faculty member in the ASU Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
In the years since, Zhao has made great strides on the frontier of LEDs in three areas.