Who Invented the LED (the Light-emitting diode)?

I was looking into some lighting for my living room, and I noted that everything is LED now. It’s not new. In fact, it’s been like that for a good minute now, but it still feels like a recent trend. Turns out, this type of “diode” is really far from new.

Who Created the LED?

First, what is an LED, a Light-emitting diode? It is a small device that, when energy flows through it, produces light. Energy-efficient lighting, displays in electronics like TVs and phones, indication lights, auto lights, and other uses are all made possible by it. LEDs are effective, durable, and available in various shapes and sizes.

LEDs operate via electroluminescence, as opposed to incandescent bulbs, which produce light by heating a wire filament until it produces light. Photons (light) are produced when the semiconductor material’s electrons and electron holes join once more. The type of semiconductor material utilized in the production of the LED determines the hue of the light that is emitted.

Oleg Vladimirovich Lossev, a Russian inventor, announced the development of the first LED in 1927. His groundbreaking research was on electroluminescence, a phenomenon in which substances generate light in reaction to an electric current. Although Lossev’s finding provided the framework for LEDs, real-world applications took some time to materialize.

The 1950s saw a greater exploration of the notions proposed by Lossev. In order to comprehend and clarify the underlying principles of the original light-emitting diodes, Professor Kurt Lehovec performed experiments. The development of the theoretical foundation for LEDs took place during the course of this decade.

In 1958, the first green LED was developed by Egon Loebner and Rubin Braunstein, which represented a significant advancement in LED technology. This accomplishment showed that LEDs could generate many hues of light, opening the door for the wide variety of colors we now see in current LED displays and lighting systems.

Let There Be LED (and colored LEDs!)

When Nick Holonyak created the first LED that produced visible light in 1962, it was a turning point in the history of LED technology. With its capacity to generate light in the visible spectrum and suitability for a range of applications, the red LED invented by Holonyak signified the advent of useful LED technology—that’s why he is often credited as the inventor of the LED.

In the following years, LEDs started to be incorporated into numerous devices. LEDs were first incorporated into early computer circuit boards by IBM, and Hewlett Packard (HP) later used them in calculators.

Then, researchers kept broadening the range of LED colors throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The first blue LED was developed by Edward Miller and Jacques Pankove, which opened up a broad variety of color possibilities for LEDs. The repertory expanded with the creation of yellow-colored LEDs—and red LEDs with greater brightness than Holonyak’s—by M. George Craford, then Herbert Maruska and Walden C. Rhines created a blue LED using magnesium.

Researchers concentrated on creating high-brightness LEDs in the 1990s. Gallium Nitride research by physicists Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano produced superior blue LEDs. Shuji Nakamura created the first high-brightness blue LED based on these developments, which paved the way for the creation of white LEDs.

The LEDs Finally Took Over the World

At the start of the twenty-first century, white LEDs able to produce effective and high-quality light entered the market. With the introduction of energy-efficient alternatives to conventional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, this invention quickly changed the lighting scene. In a variety of locations, including homes, schools, workplaces, and hospitals, LED lights have gained appeal.

LED lighting had taken over as the main source of illumination by 2019. Halogen and fluorescent lamps were gradually phased out due to the effectiveness, robustness, and adaptability of LEDs. In addition to revolutionizing lighting options, LED technology has made a substantial contribution to environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.

If you are interested in eco-friendly technology, I have already written about the invention of the solar panels. Also, you may be into the Solarpunk genre.

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