At Evluma, we’ve seen firsthand just how far outdoor LED lighting technology has come in recent years. While our AreaMax LED street light has helped to improve driving conditions, save municipalities money, and reduce light pollution, LED technology had to come a long way to make this possible.
When British inventor Henry Joseph Round first noticed that an application of 10 volts to a carborundum crystal would cause the emission of a yellow light in 1907, the discovery opened the door to further research that would revolutionize how we produce artificial light. Even though Henry Round first discovered the process on which LED lights would be based, it wasn’t until 1927 that a working theory was proposed by Russian scientist Oleg Vladimirovich Losev. It would be another 30 years before LED technology would finally get the push it needed to become the efficient lighting solution it is today.
The Steady Signs of Progress
While Round and Losev may be considered the grandfathers of LED lighting technology, no advances in the field were made for decades after Losev’s published paper.
In 1961, researchers working for Texas Instruments discovered that the gallium-arsenide diode emitted an infrared light whenever connected to a current. During that same year a patent was issued for infrared LED.
Just a year later, Nick Holonyak Jr. developed the first diode that emitted a visible light while working for General Electric in 1962. Unlike the cool luminescence provided by the AreaMax, Holonyak’s diode emitted a red light.
A decade later, a graduate student of Holonyak’s – M. George Crawford – developed the first yellow LED light and a brighter and more efficient red LED light. From there the future of LED started to become progressively brighter. Innovation that once took decades was now being made in quick succession.
A high brightness visible light emitting diode was developed in 1976 for use in the telecommunications industry. By 1979, the first blue LED light was developed, but was deemed too expensive for commercial use until the mid-90s. Now, technology has progressed to the point where light emitting diodes can be made in one or a variety of colors.
Lighting the Future
As with many technological breakthroughs, LED lighting was initially deemed too inefficient, not from a performance standpoint but from one of price, to see immediate widespread acceptance. The first light-emitting diodes cost around $200. This high price point limited LED use to laboratory equipment and other professional setting that required high functioning equipment.
Fortunately, Fairchild Semiconductors was able to reduce the individual cost of LED lights in the late 70s using a special planar production process. By developing these types of innovative solutions, Fairchild was successful at transforming LED into a commercially viable product.
With price no longer an obstacle, LED technology was quickly incorporated into a variety of products and designs. LED with visible light was used as a replacement for neon and incandescent lights, in large RGB screens, in calculators, watches, flashlights, and a variety of other visual displays. Infrared LEDs are now used in everything from TV remotes to DVD players, and have quickly become the standard for any device that requires wireless control.
Evluma is Helping Lead the Way
As an industry leader in outdoor LED lighting technology, Evluma will continue to develop new and exciting designs that will help to propel LED into the future. Thanks to the accomplishments of those like Henry Joseph Round, M. George Crawford, and many other men and women, LED lighting technology has an extraordinary history that will lead new pioneers to make their own mark going forward.
Technology generally takes a few small steps before leaping forward, and here at Evluma we remain ready to jump into the latest advances that make our products some of the industry’s best.