LED lights have not always been as cost-efficient as they are today, The first LED’s cost $200 dollars each, but since they use 90% less energy than incandescent lighting and 60% less than fluorescent lighting they have taken over the market and become an extremely popular lighting solution. They are now also more reasonably priced.
What Is A LED Light?
A LED or Light Emitting Diode is an electric light that only allows electric current to flow in one direction. An electrical current passes through a microchip that illuminates the light sources called LED’s, which are tiny. The concept is simple, two conductive materials, placed into contact with each other. Once the electricity is applied to the diode, the atoms in one material become charged with energy, which is then released in the form of electrons into the other conductive material. This is what creates the light. This distinguishes LED’s from traditional lights as it does not produce light by creating heat. An LED light will have multiple light-emitting diodes that generate light in one direction, doing away with the need for diffusers and reflectors.
History Of The LED Light
The first person to discover the concept of electroluminescence, (the phrase coined by George Destriau in 1936) was Henry Joseph Round in 1907. He observed the phenomenon in Silicon Carbide. The light was too faint to be of use and nothing further came of it until 1920, when Bernhard Gudden and Robert Wichard Pohl used Zinc Sulphide with copper and the phenomenon was repeated. The light again was again too faint to be of any consequence.
While working on a laser diode in 1961, Robert Biard and Gary Pittman accidentally invented an infra-red LED. They were both working at Texas Instruments and the light was of no use because it was invisible to humans.
In 1962, Nick Holonyak Jr. invented the first LED light. It could produce a visible red light and this achievement earned him the title of “Father of the Light-Emitting Diode”. He was employed at General Electric at the time.
Since the 1950s, experimentation had started with the type of semiconductor that would produce efficient LEDs. This continued throughout the 60s, and LEDs were made using Gallium Arsenide Phosphide on a Gallium Arsenide substrate. This increased the efficiency of the lights and brighter, red LEDs were produced, to be followed by orange ones.
In 1972, M.George Craford of the Monsanto Company managed to make LEDs that emitted a pale yellow light, by using two Gallium Phosphide chips, one red and one green. Monsanto became the first company to produce LED lights on a large scale. Craford invented an LED that was 10 time brighter than Holonyak’s one. By the end of the 1070s, LEDs could produce a pure green light and LED lights became popular.
The Super Bright LED Lights
The first super bright LED lights in green, red and yellow were developed in the early 1980s, and in the early 1990s the use of Indium Gallium Aluminium Phosphide as a semiconductor produced ultra-bright orange-red, orange, green and yellow LED lights.
In 1994, Shuji Nakamura used Gallium Nitride to invent the ultra-bright blue LED which were followed by high-intensity blue and green LED lights developed by using Indium Gallium Nitride. These were the foundation for the development for the cost-efficient and functional white LED lights used today in many commercial and manufacturing areas. Scientists found that by coating the blue-light emitting chip with fluorescent phosphors, the diode emitted bright white light.
Research into LED technology continues, with new LEDs that emit pure violet and even ultra-violet “black” light.
Lifetime Of LED Lights
With a long lifespan LEDs do not actually burn out, but experience ‘lumen depreciation’. That means that the brightness of the LED dims slowly over time.
Benefits Of LED Lighting
Besides been energy efficient, with energy savings of 80-90%, LEDs last 2-3 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and 50 times longer than incandescent lamps. They have a typical lifespan of 50,000 hours. LED lights provide instant lighting, unlike fluorescent bulbs.
LEDs are also eco-friendly, since they reduce carbon emissions by being more economical. 20% of the world’s electricity is used on lighting. Since LEDs do not contain mercury, their disposal is easier and cleaner to the environment.
Lower heat output makes LED lamps more suitable for lighting heat sensitive items like artworks or foods. This is because they do not project infrared heat in their beams. This also makes them safe, since they emit less heat; there is a reduced risk of fire caused by the higher temperatures of the older light bulbs.
They are also more durable and can withstand lower temperatures and higher levels of vibration than the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.
Technology has helped make these bulbs even smaller than ever before.
Uses For LED Lighting
Up until a few years ago the uses for LED lighting were nothing more than lights for the Christmas tree and laser beams. Technology has rapidly changed all this and today LEDs offer lighting solutions for many industries, commercial properties and homes.
They last longer, offer better quality luminescence and save electricity.
They are now used in everything that needs to be lit. This technology has allowed lighting to reach a whole new level.
Tiny LEDs are being used for many purposes many of them are decorative, while most are practical and help make our lives easier.
Besides lamps and light fixtures, LEDs are now being incorporated into a wide range of products that include high-end custom motor car interiors, art pieces, music videos, live performances and at all types of events.
At home, you can use LEDs to beautify your world and simultaneously make it practical:
- Use as accent lighting on stairs, under kitchen counters and islands, and since they are economical to use, let them burn through the night to prevent bumping into things. Since LEDs now come out in rope lighting they can be adhered to any surface.
- LED light can be added to your dining table, either by custom order or in a DIY project. They work well as table accents. LED tablecloths and place mats are also available to further increase the dining mood.
- Faucets and shower heads with added LED lights produce a futuristic effect when paired with modern chrome. Enjoy all the hues of the rainbow as you shower under your lit showerhead. LED lights are also added to designer bath tubs and basins.
- Centerpieces can be lit up with colored LED disks and will give off a warm flame effect, while waterproof LEDs can be added to glasses and worked into flower arrangements.
- Help your indoor herb garden and other plants grow. An LED planter pot will also give your hoe style. Some of these are also solar powered.
- If you take your dog out for an evening walk you might want to purchase a LED harness, leash or collar. You will be visible and the lights last for a 100,000 hours.
- LED umbrellas are practical and help keep you safe at night by being more visible.
Here Are Some Interesting Uses For LED Lights:
1. Virtual Sky
Making indoor work spaces more interesting and less monotonous, this indoor ceiling invented by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, mimics the pleasant mood of living under the clear blue sky with passing clouds. This improves productivity by 15% according to its inventors.
2. Car Sunroof
LED Car Sunroofs allow the occupants of the car to choose among a variety of interior lighting modes and they are powered by solar energy. The sunroof can be set to clear, for winter dries, or opaque and cooler alternative for hotter days. This is all done with the flip of a switch and you can even choose the degree of light entering the car.
3. Bionic Contact Lens
These are under development at the Aalto University. Finland. The bionic contact lens works by transmitting information to a transparent chip attached to the lens. They will transfer their computer screen right into the retina, and you won’t have to break eye contact with someone while reading your emails.
4. LED light strips
Cars and motorcycles can be showcased with these waterproof light strips attached to them. Surely may other uses can be found for these.
5. LED Wall paper
These exciting wall papers van be programmed to present changing shades to your walls. They will take you to the ocean floor or the Amazon jungle depending on your mood,
6. Digital decorations
These decorations are lit up by LED lights and many are solar powered. Leave them out during the day to absorb the power and bring them indoors at night for a special lighting effect, or leave them out as garden lights.
7. LED Eyelashes
These will make a lasting impression as they glow in the dark, they can be turned on or off with a slight tilt of your head.
LED’s with there low power usage and long serviceability are going no where fast, the question is what’s the future of lighting going to be and how can LED’s improve your life?