October of 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the LED, and if that’s not reason enough to celebrate, consider the fact that LED lighting has made record strides in the past half decade alone, and in just two years time the industry is expected to surpass as much as $1 billion. What better way to take note of the occasion than to look back at where the LED has been alongside a peak into the future of where the LED is headed.
The LED is born.
The history of the LED starts back in 1962 in a General Electric laboratory, Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first visible Light Emitting Diode (LED). Soon after, pale yellow and green LEDs followed. It was the red LED that began appearing in practical products initially, being used in everything from indicator lights to pocket calculators.
LED on the Rise
During the later half of the twentieth century, advancements in LED technology were slow and steady. Throughout the 1970s, LEDs were more or less tabled for many applications in favor of liquid crystal displays (LCD dispalys) due to their favorable power consumption benefits and display flexibility. But it wasn’t until the 1990s when the first white LED was ever created. It was this invention that finally led to the widespread use of LED lighting for general illumination such as street lighting and other applications.
LEDs & General Illumination
In 2000, the US Department of Energy partnered with the private LED industry to increase awareness and usage of white LED technology. While at the time LED technology was no more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, in just a decades time, by 2010, LED lighting technologies had advanced to become at least three to four times more efficient.
The Future of LEDs
The LED is expected to reach its full energy potential by around 2020 based on current progress and cooperation between the US Department of Energy and the private industry. With the possibility of achieving up to 15 times the energy efficiency of incandescent lighting, LEDs have a promising future in the lighting industry. Although they are thought to be a relatively expensive lighting solution in today’s market, in the years to come LED lighting will continue to fall in price, making it an extremely viable solution in terms of both cost and energy efficiency.