LED Story

Developing Technology

Lighting is changing.  Once there was fire, followed by candles and fuelled lamps. Even the electric incandescent light bulb was really just a sophisticated version of the same principle, burning a filament and, like candles, producing more heat than light. Fluorescents are more efficient and in recent years the compact versions were the darling of the environmental movement, touted as the best replacements for energy hungry incandescents. But they had problems. Early versions took time to warm up and, according to one commentator, gave your home the pleasant ambience of a morgue. Their environmental credentials are compromised because they contain mercury which means they can’t be easily disposed of and breakages are hazardous. But their demise is really being sealed by the emergence of affordable LEDs. Non toxic and offering a choice of pleasing colour temperatures, LEDs are clearly the way of the future.

LED Law

From the astonishing brightness of a humble bicycle light to the meticulous illumination required for the Sistine Chapel, LED lighting is casting a new light in every area of our lives.  Many people have heard of Moore’s Law, which claims that computer chips double in speed and halve in cost every 18 months. Less well known is Haitz’s Law, which predicts that the amount of light produced by LEDs increases by a factor of 20 every decade while the cost drops by a factor of 10. Since he proposed this in 1999, his predictions have proven correct and the ongoing improvement of LEDs mean that they have become the first choice lighting in any refit or new project.

LED anywhere

Only sodium vapour lights now compete with the efficiency of LEDs and they are only useful as street lights. Applications that depend on serious light output and excellent colour temperature such as stadium lighting are still served by metal halide, but this is changing. The exacting demands of U.S television were met in 2015 with Super Bowl held in a stadium entirely lit by LED. Wimbeldon’s Centre Court now uses LED because their instant brightness makes it possible to quickly resume play as soon as the roof is closed. In terms of efficiency, longevity and sheer light output, LEDs have now become the standard choice in lighting warehouses and factories.

21st Century

LEDs are everywhere and have been for some time. The little red light invented by Nick Holonyak in 1962 found its way into instrument lights, digital watches and calculators, but had to wait until 1993 for three Japanese researchers – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura – to make the crucial breakthrough and create the blue light needed to make bright white LED light possible. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognised their achievement in 2014 with the Nobel Prize in Physics and said: “With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.” They went on to say: “Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps.”

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