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White LEDs And The Illumination Breakthrough


   The attainment of high efficiency in blue LEDs was quickly followed by the development of the first white LED. In this device a Y
:Ce (known as "YAG") phosphor coating on the emitter absorbs some of the blue emission and produces yellow light through fluorescence. The combination of that yellow with remaining blue light appears white to the eye. However, using different phosphors (fluorescent materials) it also became possible to instead produce green and red light through fluorescence. The resulting mixture of red, green and blue is not only perceived by humans as white light but is superior for illumination in terms of color rendering, whereas one cannot appreciate the color of red or green objects illuminated only by the yellow (and remaining blue) wavelengths from the YAG phosphor.


    The first white LEDs were expensive and inefficient. However, the light output of LEDs has increased exponentially, with a doubling occurring approximately every 36 months since the 1960s (similar to Moore's law). This trend is generally attributed to the parallel development of other semiconductor technologies and advances in optics[citation needed] and materials science and has been called Haitz's law after Dr. Roland Haitz.[43]

    The light output and efficiency of blue and near-ultraviolet LEDs rose as the cost of reliable devices fell: this led to the use of (relatively) high-power white-light LEDs for the purpose of illumination which are replacing incandescent and fluorescent lighting.[44][45]

    Experimental white LEDs have been demonstrated to produce over 300 lumens per watt of electricity; some can last up to 100,000 hours.[46]Compared to incandescent bulbs, this is not only a huge increase in electrical efficiency but – over time – a similar or lower cost per bulb.

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