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What is an LED?

What is an LED?


It is short for "Light-Emitting Diode".
These tiny lamps contain semi-conductor chips that are used to create the color

A very basic introduction to how a light-emitting diode works.

In the simplest terms, a light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electric current is passed through it. Light is produced when the particles that carry the current (known as electrons and holes) combine together within the semiconductor material.

Since light is generated within the solid semiconductor material, LEDs are described as solid-state devices. The term solid-state lighting, which also encompasses organic LEDs (OLEDs), distinguishes this lighting technology from other sources that use heated filaments (incandescent and tungsten halogen lamps) or gas discharge (fluorescent lamps).

Inside the semiconductor material of the LED, the electrons and holes are contained within energy bands. The separation of the bands (i.e. the band gap) determines the energy of the photons (light particles) that are emitted by the LED.

The photon energy determines the wavelength of the emitted light and hence its color. Different semiconductor materials with different band gaps produce different colors of light. The precise wavelength (color) can be tuned by altering the composition of the light-emitting, or active, region.

LEDs are comprised of compound semiconductor materials, which are made up of elements from group III and group V of the periodic table (these are known as III-V materials). Examples of III-V materials commonly used to make LEDs are gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium phosphide (GaP).

Until the mid-90s LEDs had a limited range of colors, and in particular commercial blue and white LEDs did not exist. The development of LEDs based on the gallium nitride (GaN) material system completed the palette of colors and opened up many new applications.

NOTE – This is a very basic description of a very basic LED module. There are a constantly growing number of variations and combinations of LED modules as either singular or pre-assembled into ‘strings’ or ‘ribbons’. See the product list for some of those various products available.