Technologies

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light-emitting diode

A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a p–n junction diode, which emits light when activated.
When a suitable 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.

LEDs have allowed new text, video displays, and sensors to be developed, while their high switching rates are also useful in advanced communications technology.

LEDs are subject to very limited wear and tear if operated at low currents and at low temperatures. Many of the LEDs made in the 1970s and 1980s are still in service in the early 21st century. Typical lifetimes quoted are 25,000 to 100,000 hours, but heat and current settings can extend or shorten this time significantly.

LED performance is temperature dependent. Most manufacturers' published ratings of LEDs are for an operating temperature of 25 °C (77 °F). LEDs used outdoors, such as traffic signals or in-pavement signal lights, and that are utilized in climates where the temperature within the light fixture gets very high, could result in low signal intensities or even failure.