The history and origins of LED technology

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LED technology is considered to be the future of lighting and possibly even the future of data communication. LED lighting has numerous advantages over incandescent lighting and CFL lighting. LEDs are more energy efficient, last significantly longer, have excellent color rendering, and are more environmental friendly.

Early beginnings

LEDs in their current form have been around for around 50 years. Electroluminescence is the phenomenon by which a material emits light in response to the application of electricity, and it is the phenomenon on which LED technology is based.

LEDs were first developed in the 1960s. Robert Biard and Garry Pittman developed and patented an infrared LED in 1961 while working at Texas Instruments. The duo observed near-infrared emission from a tunnel diode. In 1962, Nick Holonyak created the first visible light LED at General Electric. Holonyak has been called 'The Father of the Light-Emitting Diode.' The LED emitted red color. Most of the LEDs developed during the first 10 years of LED technology emitted red which is a stark cry from the multitude of hues in which are LEDs are now available.

Visible light LEDs

LEDs have been commercially available since the 1970s. LEDs were initially used as indicator lamps in place of incandescent and neon lighting. Yellow and blue LEDs were invented in the 1970s. However, just like red LEDs, they weren't used for much apart from being used as indicators due their low amount of light emission.

It wasn't until the 1990s that researchers were able to figure out a way to make LEDs brighter. Shuji Nakamura developed the first high-brightness LED in 1994. High-brightness blue LEDs quickly led us to white LEDs and it completely revolutionized LED technology. Soon enough companies were able to create white LEDs that were far more energy efficient and long-lasting than their incandescent and CFL counterparts.

Advancements in LED technology increased the applications of LEDs. LEDs could now be used in a wide variety of commercial and residential lighting purposes. Examples include stage and theater lights, street lights, home bulbs and lamps, flashlights, and basically anyplace where artificial light can be used.

Future of LEDs

The only major drawback of LEDs right now is their higher initial cost when compared to incandescent and CFLs. However, LEDs repay this initial cost over time primarily due to their longer lives and lower energy consumptions. LEDs will completely replace incandescent and CFLs in the near future.