A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source. LEDs were used as indicator lamps only in many devices, but now are increasingly used for lighting. Introduced as a practical electronic component in 1962, early LEDs emitted low-intensity red light, but latest versions are available across the visible, ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths, with amazing brightness.
The LED is based on the semiconductor diode. When a diode is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence and the colour of the light is determined by the energy gap of the semiconductor. An LED is usually small in area (less than 1 mm2), and integrated optical components are used to shape its radiation pattern and aid in reflection.
There are many advantages of the LED lights over incandescent light sources including very low energy consumption, extremely long lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size, faster switching, and greater durability and reliability. LED lights are relatively more expensive than traditional light sources, however much cheaper outlay in the long run. They also enjoy use in applications as diverse as replacements for traditional light sources in automotive lighting and in traffic signals. Airbus has used LED lighting in their A320 Enhanced since 2007, and Boeing plans its use in the 787. 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 advanced communications technology.
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