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What is LED Lighting and How Does it Work?

Our modern society has many technological marvels, but not all of them have the same impact as the discovery and harnessing of electricity. This single innovation led to most of what we take for granted in our daily lives today, like cellphones, cars, heating systems, and of course, light bulbs.

Still, even within the field of light bulbs, there has been significant innovation. Incandescent bulbs, for instance, have been almost entirely replaced by LED lighting in both residential and commercial settings. We have larger, more powerful light bulbs that can cast light far off into the night, and they can last for longer and longer periods of time.

For those interested in how this technology works and what it actually is, answers are in store just below, thanks to switchlighting.ca

What Are LEDs?

LEDs are semiconductors that produce light. LED lighting combines these semiconductors with two other important pieces of technology. The first is a heatsink, which helps to keep the light cool and reduce the rate at which it degrades. The second is a light-scattering shroud, which is a tricky piece of engineering designed to spread the direct light of an LED in all directions, giving off light in a radius rather than a single direction. 

How Do LED Lights Work?

LED lighting relies on the principle of electroluminescence, which is the quality of a material to produce photons when exposed to electricity. These light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are semiconductor devices that combine electrons and holes when exposed to electricity. According to LEDs Magazine, these electrons and holes are contained within energy bands, and the distance between them determines the wavelength (colour) emitted by the device.  

The material that constitutes these semiconductors is the determining factor in their colour. These are the most common materials used in LED lighting:

  • Indium gallium nitride
  • Aluminum gallium indium phosphide
  • Aluminum gallium arsenide
  • Gallium phosphide

Each material will produce a different amount of colours on the light spectrum. Of particular note is aluminum gallium arsenide, which produces both red and infrared light. 


What Happens to LED Lighting Over Time?

Over time, LED lighting begins to degrade. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which eventually break, LED lights simply decline in efficiency. Most light bulb manufacturers recommend replacement when the material has lost 30% of its original capacity. 

Who Discovered LED Lighting?

LED lighting was first discovered in Russia by an inventor named Oleg Losev, according to his submission to The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science in 1928, among others. It would take around 40 years from this first discovery until the development of something resembling the LEDs we know today. This patent for a semiconductor radiant diode filed by J.R. Biard et al. in 1966 is this initial product.

After the technology had been proven and discovered, it was not long before commercially available LED lighting was available. Indeed, it was only two years until the first commercial products were available from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Monsanto, which were an LED display and LED indicator lamp, respectively. For more information, check out this Wikipedia article on the subject.

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