A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a basic pn-junction diode, which emits light when activated. When a biasing 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.
An LED is often small in area (less than 1 mm2) and integrated optical components may be used to shape its radiation pattern.
Appearing as practical electronic components in 1962, the earliest LEDs emitted low-intensity infrared light. 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 in LEDs permit them to be used in environmental and task lighting. 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 now used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting, automotive headlamps, advertising, general lighting, traffic signals, and camera flashes. However, LEDs powerful enough for room lighting are still relatively expensive, and require more precise current and heat management than compact fluorescent lamp sources of comparable output.The blue and white LED
The first high-brightness blue LED was demonstrated by Shuji Nakamura of Nichia Corporation in 1994 and was based on InGaN Its development built on critical developments in GaN nucleation on sapphire substrates and the demonstration of p-type doping of GaN, developed by Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano in Nagoya. 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). The existence of blue LEDs and high-efficiency LEDs quickly led to the development of the first white LED, which employed a Y3Al5O12:Ce, or "YAG", phosphor coating to mix down-converted yellow light with blue to produce light that appears white. Nakamura was awarded the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize for his invention. Akasaki, Amano, and Nakamura were awarded the 2014 Nobel prize in physics for the invention of efficient blue LED On October 7, 2014, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for "the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources" or, less formally, LED lamps.
The development of LED technology has caused their efficiency and light output to rise exponentially, with a doubling occurring approximately every 36 months since the 1960s, in a way similar to Moore's law. This trend is generally attributed to the parallel development of other semiconductor technologies and advances in optics and material science, and has been called Haitz's law after Dr. Roland Haitz.
In 2000 and 2002, 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. It has been speculated that the use of six-inch silicon wafers instead of two-inch sapphire wafers and epitaxy manufacturing processes could reduce production costs by up to 90%.Why blue in particular?
Well, blue was the last -- and most difficult -- advance required to create white LED light. And with white LED light, companies are able to create smartphone and computer screens, as well as light bulbs that last longer and use less electricity than any bulb invented before. At the time, scientists developed LEDs that emitted everything from infrared light to green light… but they couldn't quite get to blue. That required chemicals, including carefully-created crystals, that they weren't yet able to make in the lab.
Once they did figure it out, however, the results were remarkable. A modern white LED lightblub converts more than 50 percent of the electricity it uses into light. Compare that to the 4 percent conversion rate for incandescent bulbs, and you have one efficient bulb. Besides saving money and electricity for all users, white LEDs' efficiency makes them appealing for getting lighting to folks living in regions without electricity supply. A solar installation can charge an LED lamp to last a long time, allowing kids to do homework at night and small businesses to continue working after dark.
A modern white LED light bulb converts more than 50 percent of the electricity it uses into light. Compare that to the 4 percent conversion rate for incandescent bulbs.
LEDs also last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights and 1,000 hours for incandescent bulbs. Switching more houses and buildings over to LEDs could significantly reduce the world's electricity and materials consumption for lighting.
A white LED light is easy to make from a blue one. Engineers use a blue LED to excite some kind of fluorescent chemical in the bulb. That converts the blue light to white light.References:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diodehttp://www.popsci.com/article/technology/why-blue-led-worth-nobel-prize