The matter of lighting has been steadily evolving since before the days of Thomas Edison. While the light bulb in one form or another has been a present element of modern life since the early 1900s, the matter of LED might seem a more recent invention. Here is a brief history of LED lighting to trace back the journey of this invention from a novelty to a modern-day staple.
As far back as 1907, Henry Joseph Round found that when silicon carbide crystals experienced 10 volts of energy, the crystal would create a yellow-tinged illumination. While this discovery would be the basic starting point for LED lighting, it remained an unrealized outcome from a small sample experiment. In fact, it wasn’t properly executed or studied as a working theory for illumination again until 1927 when a scientist named Oleg Vladimirovich Losev published a paper outlining the methods and effects of using crystal carbides for illumination.
Again, it would take decades for any progress to be made in the history of LED lighting. While the use of carbide crystals was an accepted method, it wasn’t suitable for long periods to make it applicable for commercial use. It wasn’t until 1955 when a new discovery was made which would help to pioneer LED lighting to a new level. When Rubin Braunstein found that simple diodes would emit a red illumination when connected to a current, LED lighting was given the push it needed. From that discovery on, many experiments were conducted in the race to create LED lighting which could be commercialized for professional and private use. While the creation of red LED lights was useful for certain applications, such as warning lights, it wasn’t broadly applicable because of the color.
In 1972, the first yellow light emitting diode was realized by M. George Crawford. This would completely change the application of LED lighting because it could now be used in other areas than warning lights in the red color. While this was a crucial step in the history of LED lighting, it would still be rather limited in its applications. At this point LED technology was still limited to smaller lighting jobs, such as in remote controls, certain laboratory applications, and uses in certain industrial settings.
In 1973, the next big discovery in LED lighting was made when a man named Shuji Nakamura discovered diodes could emit light in the blue wavelength. This was important because it made the use of LED more applicable to various applications, however, it was still too expensive to commercialize it for everyday use until 1994.
The first commonly used LED lights in the late 1990s were actually for automotive applications. From dash lighting to headlights, LED lights would find their footing in the automotive world which would open up new applications in the future.
With the success of LED lights in automotive applications music store lighting, LED lighting was quickly expanded for use in several indoor and outdoor uses. From stadium floodlights to bathroom lighting in the home, LED lighting is now one of the most widely used solutions on the market with a range of colors available.