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The last decade has been monumental for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and the coming years look even more promising. For the average consumer, this innovative technology has only recently been brought to light (so to speak). Today, not only will you find LEDs in just about every piece of electronic equipment on the market, but this technology is credited with the potential to save the world, literally — by saving energy through better performance and lower maintenance.
The now popular LED technology can trace its roots to more than 100 years ago, when British scientist Henry J. Round discovered that the junction of a semiconductor produced light. After his discovery in 1907, various scientists sporadically tried to improve the semiconductor’s versatility and efficiency, but it wasn’t until 1962 that the first visible LED light was produced by Nick Holonyak Jr., an employee of General Electric Company. Since then, researchers and scientists have been working to develop, improve, and expand LED technology.
LED lighting is taking the world by storm as a pioneer symbol of the “green” movement, and LEDs have bested the incandescent bulb by outstanding margins. Not only are LED lights physically brighter than conventional bulbs, they burn cooler and consume up to 90 percent less energy. They’re also used in a host of different products and technologies. For example:
— LEDs played a huge role in holiday celebrations this year, lighting up nationally-recognized Christmas trees and the iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball.
— LED technology has made appearances in the Super Bowl, U2’s concert tour, and outer-space.
— LED lighting revolutionized the arts by illuminating theater stages, historic monuments, and the silver screen. It even won an Emmy.
— LED innovations continue to battle cancer and climate change.
Based on past LED trends and markets, watch for these likely possibilities in the coming years:
— Cheaper home LEDs. Europe has already banned the sale of incandescent bulbs, and the United States is set to follow suit in 2012, which means product developers will be diligently working to make LEDs more accessible to consumers.
— LED ceilings and wallpaper. This innovation is in development now. Instead of having light fixtures, we’ll have entire walls and ceiling that produce light, opening up huge new realms of possibilities for both interior and exterior lighting.
— Custom LED lighting. Along with LED ceilings and walls, these innovations will be controlled by a digital display or switchboard or that can customize the color, brightness, hue, temperature, and other lighting properties.
— Simulated sunlight. Down the road, LEDs have the potential to virtually replace the sun, recreating natural sunlight to help treat conditions such as seasonal depression and other sun-related illness or disease.
As you can see, LED technology has the potential to take the world to brighter heights. It will be exciting to watch where this innovative technology leads us, and what interesting places it illuminates.
~Richard McNeal, 2010
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write by Amee Wheeler