LED or Light Emitting Diode technology is the latest in home and commercial lighting that uses up less amount of energy and is considered 90% more efficient and eco-friendly than its incandescent counterparts. They are available as small and solid light bulbs that are extremely long lasting and energy efficient. A lot more rugged and durable than any lighting alternative, LEDs offer a whole lot of advantages. Consequently, it is being adopted into every kind of industry including residential/commercial lighting, automotive, aerospace, broadcasting, gaming & entertainment, defense, transportation, traffic and electronic instrumentation.
How did LEDs come about?
The first instances of LED inventions were seen in the later part of the 20th century when researchers identified that applying current to a specific variety of crystal diode gave out a faint light. The better part was that the material showed no signs of heating up, howsoever long electricity were passed through it. The phenomenon later came to be known as electroluminescence. However, until about the 1950, the actual process of LED lighting was still an oddity, but nevertheless, manufacturers started commercial production of the diode due to the several mechanical and cost advantages.
The first commercial LEDs were infrared LEDs, commonly used in laser beams. It was made from a compound known as gallium arsenide. Researchers later found materials that were able to produce yellow and red lights. Subsequently, the lights were made bigger and brighter.
How LEDs work?
The most important part of an LED bulb is a small sized semiconductor chip that makes the lighting. This semiconductor is made out of double layer crystalline materials like GaAs and contaminated by few other materials. The contamination works as the layer that has high electron density and free electrons. However, the other layer has ample space for inviting in new electrons. In technical terms, the contamination later is the n-type while the GaAs layer is p-type. On application of voltage, there is a smooth flow of electrons between the two layers, releasing light at the point of juncture. Electrons flowing from ‘n’ to ‘p’ releases potential energy or photons which we see as light. The brightness of the light depends upon the amount of the electron flow between the layers. The larger the gap between the layers, the more free energy exists and the brighter is the glow. Also, changing the wavelength also allows the light to shift across the color spectrum – from red to blue.
In 2014, Isamo Akasaki, Shuji Nakamura and Hiroshi Amano claimed the Noble Prize for being able to create diode crystals that worked at the blue end of the spectrum. The invention of blue LED proved to be the Holy Grail and it became easy to convert the color of bulbs using several kinds of phosphorous. Combining blue Led with special phosphorous gave out the white light.
What the future holds
LEDs have certainly proved to be a safer, cheaper and environment friendly lighting alternative. However, it isn’t foolproof. As compared to incandescent lights, LEDs cannot be dimmed and brightened at will. Instead, a series of continuous flickering presents the illusion of brightness control. In roads, this has been a safety issue but researchers are already coming up with possible solutions like the Philips 100W replacement bulb. Further research is certainly required to make the most out of this game-changing technology.
Ryan is a tech blogger from London, UK. Currently he is working as a Marketing Manager at Auto LED Shop. Apart from writing, he likes to provide growth hacking tips to business owners.