Saturday, June 09, 2012

An LED That Puts Out More Energy Than it Uses?

I'm dubious, but the last sentence seems to explain it.

From Duncan Geere … Ultra-efficient LED puts out more power than is pumped in:

MIT physicists have managed to build a light-emitting diode that has an electrical efficiency of more than 100 percent. You may ask, "Wouldn't that mean it breaks the first law of thermodynamics?" The answer, happily, is no.

The LED produces 69 picowatts of light using 30 picowatts of power, giving it an efficiency of 230 percent. That means it operates above "unity efficiency" -- putting it into a category normally occupied by perpetual motion machines.

However, while MIT's diode puts out more than twice as much energy in photons as it's fed in electrons, it doesn't violate the conservation of energy because it appears to draw in heat energy from its surroundings instead. When it gets more than 100 percent electrically -efficient, it begins to cool down, stealing energy from its environment to convert into more photons.

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