Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs): Since their introduction in the early 1960s, LEDs have evolved from simple indicator lights and alphanumeric displays to an exciting new source for general light. OSRAM Opto Semiconductors is at the forefront, offering an expanding range of innovative products. LEDs differ radically from traditional light sources in that there are no glass bulbs or filaments to break, or electrodes to decay. Instead, LEDs are solid state light sources – basically, a chemical chip embedded in a plastic capsule. When the chip is energized by applying a voltage, it emits visible light, the color depends on the chip’s chemical composition. The light can then be focused, routed, or scattered using lenses, waveguides or diffusers. Because LEDs run on direct current, they must be operated with a transformer- type power supply.
Run Long, Run Strong:LEDs’ solid state construction brings durability and exceptionally long life. For example, a properly operated red or yellow LED can maintain up to 50% of its initial brightness after 100,000 hours. The classic LED – a radial design with its characteristic wire leads – set the standard for miniature light sources. However, new surface mount technologies (SMT) have eliminated external wiring, allowing even smaller LEDs to be mounted directly to printed circuit boards, and resulting in more durable modular systems. System durability is critical for taking advantage of LEDs’ long service life, and becomes important in demanding applications like traffic and automotive signal lights, or situations where lamp replacement costs are high.
Advances in Light Output and Color Quality:Due to the tremendous pace of technical developments, LED efficacy now rivals or surpasses that of standard incandescent lamps. For example, white LEDs are now producing more than 20 lumens per watt, compared to 8 – 15 lumens per watt for incandescent lamps. White LEDs are actually blue LEDs with a phosphor coating, which converts a portion of the blue light to yellow – the combination resulting in white light. First available in cool white (e.g., 6000 K), white LEDs will be available in neutral and warm white, as often demanded in architectural applications. LEDs are even more efficient at producing pure colored light, as their entire light output is channeled into single wavelengths. With traditional light sources, colored filters must be used to create colored light, absorbing and wasting much of the lamp’s light output. LEDs’ small size and minimal power draw make them ideal for low-profile signage, wayfinding and architectural accent applications.
Innovative Applications:OSRAM Opto Semiconductors is integrating LEDs in a number of unique modular systems, including flexible and linear modules, marker lights, and powerful “effect” modules with focusing lenses. Flexible and linear LED modules can provide uniform backlighting for signs and contour lighting for architecture, while occupying a fraction of the space and consuming a fraction of the energy required by traditional light sources. Similarly, low-profile marker lights can highlight steps or edges, guiding or alerting users to hazards in areas like auditoriums, stairways and subway platforms. Effect lights combine an array of ten LEDs with individual lenses in a single compact module. Thus focusing the combined light output into an intense (approximately 1000 cd) and narrow (four degree) beam, which can provide colorful accent for architectural features. Given the current pace of development, even general rooms with LED lighting is not a distant consideration. Indeed, the unique characteristics of LEDs invite designers to "think beyond the bulb," and ponder a more seamless integration of light and building materials.
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