A light-emitting diode (LED) is an electronic light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many kinds of electronics and increasingly for lighting. LEDs work by the effect of electroluminescence, discovered by accident in 1907. The LED was introduced as a practical electronic component in 1962. All early devices emitted low-intensity red light, but modern LEDs are available across the visible, ultraviolet and infra red wavelengths, with very high brightness.
LEDs are based on the semiconductor diode. When the diode is forward biased (switched on), electrons are able to recombine with holes and energy is released in the form of light. This effect is called electroluminescence and the color of the light is determined by the energy gap of the semiconductor. The LED is usually small in area (less than 1 mm2) with integrated optical components to shape its radiation pattern and assist in reflection.
LEDs present many advantages over traditional light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size and faster switching.
Applications of LEDs are diverse. They are used as low-energy indicators but also for replacements for traditional light sources in general lighting, automotive lighting and traffic signals. The compact size of LEDs has allowed new text and video displays and sensors to be developed, while their high switching rates are useful in communications technology.
While LEDs may be more expensive than incandescent lights up front, because they're built around advanced semiconductor material, their lower cost in the long run can make them a better buy.
The main drivers for conversion to LEDs are higher efficiency, long life, reduced maintenance, and increased and superior visibility, making LEDs a more cost-effective lighting option for wide range of situations.
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