Light-emitting diode

Light-emitting diode
Blue, green, and red LEDs in 5 mm diffused case
Working principle Electroluminescence
Invented H. J. Round (1907) [1]
Oleg Losev (1927) [2]
James R. Biard (1961) [3]
Nick Holonyak (1962) [4]
First production October 1962
Pin configuration Anode and cathode
Electronic symbol
LED symbol.svg
Parts of a conventional LED. The flat bottom surfaces of the anvil and post embedded inside the epoxy act as anchors, to prevent the conductors from being forcefully pulled out via mechanical strain or vibration.
Modern LED retrofit with E27 screw in base
A bulb-shaped modern retrofit LED lamp with aluminium heat sink, a light diffusing dome and E27 screw base, using a built-in power supply working on mains voltage
Close up image of a surface mount LED

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two- lead semiconductor light source. It is a p–n junction diode that emits light when activated. [5] When a suitable voltage is applied to the leads, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photon) is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor. LEDs are typically small (less than 1 mm2) and integrated optical components may be used to shape the radiation pattern. [6]

Appearing as practical electronic components in 1962, the earliest LEDs emitted low-intensity infrared light. [7] Infrared LEDs are still frequently used as transmitting elements in remote-control circuits, such as those in remote controls for a wide variety of consumer electronics. The first visible-light LEDs were also of low intensity and limited to red. Modern LEDs are available across the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, with very high brightness.

Early LEDs were often used as indicator lamps for electronic devices, replacing small incandescent bulbs. They were soon packaged into numeric readouts in the form of seven-segment displays and were commonly seen in digital clocks. Recent developments have produced LEDs suitable for environmental and task lighting. LEDs have led to new displays and sensors, while their high switching rates are useful in advanced communications technology.

LEDs have many advantages over incandescent light sources, including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved physical robustness, smaller size, and faster switching. Light-emitting diodes are used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting, automotive headlamps, advertising, general lighting, traffic signals, camera flashes, and lighted wallpaper. They are also significantly more energy efficient and, arguably, have fewer environmental concerns linked to their disposal. [8] [9]

Unlike a laser, the color of light emitted from an LED is neither coherent nor monochromatic, but the spectrum is narrow with respect to human vision, and for most purposes the light from a simple diode element can be regarded as functionally monochromatic. [10][ better source needed]


Discoveries and early devices

Green electroluminescence from a point contact on a crystal of SiC recreates Round's original experiment from 1907.

Electroluminescence as a phenomenon was discovered in 1907 by the British experimenter H. J. Round of Marconi Labs, using a crystal of silicon carbide and a cat's-whisker detector. [11] [12] Russian inventor Oleg Losev reported creation of the first LED in 1927. [13] His research was distributed in Soviet, German and British scientific journals, but no practical use was made of the discovery for several decades. [14] [15] Kurt Lehovec, Carl Accardo, and Edward Jamgochian explained these first light-emitting diodes in 1951 using an apparatus employing SiC crystals with a current source of battery or pulse generator and with a comparison to a variant, pure, crystal in 1953. [16] [17]

Rubin Braunstein [18] of the Radio Corporation of America reported on infrared emission from gallium arsenide (GaAs) and other semiconductor alloys in 1955. [19] Braunstein observed infrared emission generated by simple diode structures using gallium antimonide (GaSb), GaAs, indium phosphide (InP), and silicon-germanium (SiGe) alloys at room temperature and at 77 Kelvin.

In 1957, Braunstein further demonstrated that the rudimentary devices could be used for non-radio communication across a short distance. As noted by Kroemer [20] Braunstein "…had set up a simple optical communications link: Music emerging from a record player was used via suitable electronics to modulate the forward current of a GaAs diode. The emitted light was detected by a PbS diode some distance away. This signal was fed into an audio amplifier and played back by a loudspeaker. Intercepting the beam stopped the music. We had a great deal of fun playing with this setup." This setup presaged the use of LEDs for optical communication applications.

A Texas Instruments SNX-100 GaAs LED contained in a TO-18 transistor metal case.

In September 1961, while working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas, James R. Biard and Gary Pittman discovered near-infrared (900 nm) light emission from a tunnel diode they had constructed on a GaAs substrate. [7] By October 1961, they had demonstrated efficient light emission and signal coupling between a GaAs p-n junction light emitter and an electrically-isolated semiconductor photodetector. [21] On August 8, 1962, Biard and Pittman filed a patent titled "Semiconductor Radiant Diode" based on their findings, which described a zinc diffused p–n junction LED with a spaced cathode contact to allow for efficient emission of infrared light under forward bias. After establishing the priority of their work based on engineering notebooks predating submissions from G.E. Labs, RCA Research Labs, IBM Research Labs, Bell Labs, and Lincoln Lab at MIT, the US3293513), the first practical LED. [7] Immediately after filing the patent, Texas Instruments (TI) began a project to manufacture infrared diodes. In October 1962, TI announced the first commercial LED product (the SNX-100), which employed a pure GaAs crystal to emit a 890 nm light output. [7] In October 1963, TI announced the first commercial hemispherical LED, the SNX-110. [22]

The first visible-spectrum (red) LED was developed in 1962 by Nick Holonyak, Jr. while working at General Electric. Holonyak first reported his LED in the journal Applied Physics Letters on December 1, 1962. [23] [24] M. George Craford, [25] a former graduate student of Holonyak, invented the first yellow LED and improved the brightness of red and red-orange LEDs by a factor of ten in 1972. [26] In 1976, T. P. Pearsall created the first high-brightness, high-efficiency LEDs for optical fiber telecommunications by inventing new semiconductor materials specifically adapted to optical fiber transmission wavelengths. [27]

Initial commercial development

The first commercial LEDs were commonly used as replacements for incandescent and neon indicator lamps, and in seven-segment displays, [28] first in expensive equipment such as laboratory and electronics test equipment, then later in such appliances as TVs, radios, telephones, calculators, as well as watches (see list of signal uses). Until 1968, visible and infrared LEDs were extremely costly, in the order of US$200 per unit, and so had little practical use. [29] The Monsanto Company was the first organization to mass-produce visible LEDs, using gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsP) in 1968 to produce red LEDs suitable for indicators. [29] Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduced LEDs in 1968, initially using GaAsP supplied by Monsanto. These red LEDs were bright enough only for use as indicators, as the light output was not enough to illuminate an area. Readouts in calculators were so small that plastic lenses were built over each digit to make them legible. Later, other colors became widely available and appeared in appliances and equipment. In the 1970s commercially successful LED devices at less than five cents each were produced by Fairchild Optoelectronics. These devices employed compound semiconductor chips fabricated with the planar process invented by Dr. Jean Hoerni at Fairchild Semiconductor. [30] [31] The combination of planar processing for chip fabrication and innovative packaging methods enabled the team at Fairchild led by optoelectronics pioneer Thomas Brandt to achieve the needed cost reductions. [32] LED producers continue to use these methods. [33]

LED display of a TI-30 scientific calculator (ca. 1978), which uses plastic lenses to increase the visible digit size

Most LEDs were made in the very common 5 mm T1¾ and 3 mm T1 packages, but with rising power output, it has grown increasingly necessary to shed excess heat to maintain reliability, [34] so more complex packages have been adapted for efficient heat dissipation. Packages for state-of-the-art high-power LEDs bear little resemblance to early LEDs.

Blue LED

Blue LEDs were first developed by Herbert Paul Maruska at RCA in 1972 using gallium nitride (GaN) on a sapphire substrate. [35] SiC-types were first commercially sold in the United States by Cree in 1989. [36] However, neither of these initial blue LEDs were very bright.

The first high-brightness blue LED was demonstrated by Shuji Nakamura of Nichia Corporation in 1994 and was based on InGaN. [37] [38] In parallel, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano in Nagoya were working on developing the important GaN nucleation on sapphire substrates and the demonstration of p-type doping of GaN. Nakamura, Akasaki, and Amano were awarded the 2014 Nobel prize in physics for their work. [39] In 1995, Alberto Barbieri at the Cardiff University Laboratory (GB) investigated the efficiency and reliability of high-brightness LEDs and demonstrated a "transparent contact" LED using indium tin oxide (ITO) on (AlGaInP/GaAs).

In 2001 [40] and 2002, [41] processes for growing gallium nitride (GaN) LEDs on silicon were successfully demonstrated. In January 2012, Osram demonstrated high-power InGaN LEDs grown on silicon substrates commercially. [42]

White LEDs and the illumination breakthrough

The attainment of high efficiency in blue LEDs was quickly followed by the development of the first white LED. In this device a Y
:Ce (known as " YAG") phosphor coating on the emitter absorbs some of the blue emission and produces yellow light through fluorescence. The combination of that yellow with remaining blue light appears white to the eye. However, using different phosphors (fluorescent materials) it also became possible to instead produce green and red light through fluorescence. The resulting mixture of red, green and blue is not only perceived by humans as white light but is superior for illumination in terms of color rendering, whereas one cannot appreciate the color of red or green objects illuminated only by the yellow (and remaining blue) wavelengths from the YAG phosphor.

Illustration of Haitz's law, showing improvement in light output per LED over time, with a logarithmic scale on the vertical axis

The first white LEDs were expensive and inefficient. However, the light output of LEDs has increased exponentially, with a doubling occurring approximately every 36 months since the 1960s (similar to Moore's law). This trend is generally attributed to the parallel development of other semiconductor technologies and advances in optics[ citation needed] and materials science and has been called Haitz's law after Dr. Roland Haitz. [43]

Light output and efficiency of blue and near-ultraviolet LEDs rose as the cost of reliable devices fell. This led to relatively high-power white-light LEDs for illumination, which are replacing incandescent and fluorescent lighting. [44] [45]

Experimental white LEDs have been demonstrated to produce over 300 lumens per watt of electricity; some can last up to 100,000 hours. [46] Compared to incandescent bulbs, this is not only a huge increase in electrical efficiency but – over time – a similar or lower cost per bulb. [47]

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: İşıq diodu
беларуская: Святлодыёд
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сьвятлодыёд
български: Светодиод
čeština: LED
dansk: Lysdiode
Deutsch: Leuchtdiode
español: Led
euskara: LED
فارسی: ال‌ئی‌دی
galego: LED
Bahasa Indonesia: Diode pancaran cahaya
íslenska: Ljóstvistur
italiano: LED
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಎಲ್.ಇ.ಡಿ
Latina: LED
latviešu: Gaismas diode
lietuvių: Šviesos diodas
македонски: Светлечка диода
मराठी: एलईडी
Bahasa Melayu: Diod pemancar cahaya
Nederlands: Led
Nordfriisk: Jåchtdioode
norsk: Lysdiode
norsk nynorsk: Lysdiode
occitan: LED
română: LED
русский: Светодиод
Seeltersk: Ljoachtdiode
Simple English: Light-emitting diode
slovenščina: Svetleča dioda
српски / srpski: Светлећа диода
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Svetleća dioda
suomi: LED
svenska: Lysdiod
Tagalog: LED
తెలుగు: ఎల్ ఈ డీ
Türkçe: LED
українська: Світлодіод
Tiếng Việt: LED