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What is an LED?

LED is an abbreviation for Light Emmiting Diode. Light Emitting Diodes are the newest alternative and the most cost effective lighting source that can be bought today. This relatively recent invention has revolutionised lighting by changing the way light is produced. In contrast to the traditional method of producing light through heat, LED’s create light by means of a process called electroluminescence.

A diode is a special semiconductor that conducts electricity in just one direction. The diode is made up of layers of silicon that has rare earth elements such as phosphorus, germanium, or arsenic in between the layers. The layers are called the die and the space between these is where the light is generated. Different materials and different designs in the diodes create light of differing colours and intensities.

Originally, LED lights weren’t suitable for everyday lighting as they could only produce white light by grouping together red, blue, and green LEDs to produce a light that looked white. However, modern LED’s can come in warm or cool whites just like standard bulbs as well as in a range of colours such as red, blue, green, purple, yellow, orange, aqua, and so on.

How do they work?

Connecting a diode to an electrical current excites the electrons within the diode, making them release photons, which we see as light. The colour of the light is a direct result of the energy gap in the semiconductor of the diode. This means that LED’s produce a spectrum of colours easily and brightly while using very little electricity to do so.