Nicholas Newman Eniday May 2016
The replacement of old-fashioned light bulbs with LEDs is playing a big role in fighting global warming as windmills, solar panels or electric cars. The light-emitting diode or LED light has created an energy revolution, producing a crisp white glow with up to 80 percent less power than traditional incandescent lamps. The inventors of the LED were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2014 for creating the blue light needed to complete the colour spectrum, which spawned a new industry in 1997. Nicholas Newman looks at how LEDs are saving us money and how it is used in all aspects of our life, including providing specialised lighting for cars, medical applications and theatres
The light of the sun and even artificial lighting are essential to human existence and comfort; the latter by extending the day beyond the onset of night and facilitating the 24 hour day of work, rest and play. In recent years, traditional light bulbs have been giving way to more energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights both indoors and outdoors, offering novel lighting solutions and new uses such as LED signage in the transportation sector.
The development of LED lights has opened a range of new opportunities, chief of which is LED digital signage, used to provide real-time information for travelers by bus, car, cycle, ferry, train or tram. LED signage is becoming commonplace to divert, entertain and inform travelers about arrivals, delays and waiting times for services. In addition, LED lights are becoming ubiquitous as lighting on cars, motorcycles and bicycles, owing to their mechanical robustness and long life.
Elsewhere, LED’s are being used as a source of light for machine vision systems, which require bright and consistent illumination to make it easier to record and monitor information. A case in point is the barcode reader which tallies shopping items at the check-out; the optical computer mouse that navigates the personal computer; and atmospheric detectors measuring dust, haze, smog, smoke, volcanic emissions and even clouds of water droplets or ice.