The demand for high power LEDs for illumination applications is increasing. LED package encapsulation is one of most critical materials that affect the optical path of the generated light by LEDs, and may result in lumen degradation. A typical encapsulation material is a mixture of phosphor and a polymer based binder such as silicone. After LED chips are placed at the base of a cavity, phosphor particles are mixed with silicone and carefully placed into the cavity. One of the important technical challenges is to ensure a better thermal conductivity than 0.2 W/m-K of current materials for most of the traditional polymers in SSL applications.

In this study, we investigated an unconventional material of the silk fibroin proteins for LED applications, and showed that this biomaterial provides thermal advantages leading to an order of magnitude higher thermal performance than conventional silicones. Silk fibroin is a natural protein and directly extracted from silk cocoons produced by Bombyx mori silkworm. Therefore, it presents a “green” material for photonic applications with its superior properties of biocompatibility and high optical transparency with a minimal absorption. Combining these properties with high thermal performance makes this biomaterial promising for future LED applications.

An experimental and computational study to understand the optical and thermal performance is performed. A computational fluid dynamics study with a commercial CFD software was performed and an experimental set-up was developed to validate the computational findings to determine the thermal conductivity of the proposed material.

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