On October 7, 2014, three Japanese scientists, Shuju Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, for what is one of most beneficial inventions for mankind, the blue Light Emitting Diode (LED).
For years, many scientists struggled with creating feasible options to create blue LEDs, while red, yellow and green LEDs were commonplace. Blue LEDs were harder to create because the energy gap required for electron movement was higher than that required for other lights. The other reason was the failure to find an optimum surface to grow the semiconductor material that could produce the blue light. Both of these problems were dealt with by the three scientists, and it has led to an invention that is immensely useful for many industries.
The advent of the blue LED brought entirely new industries into existence. For instance, the blue LED can be combined with red and green LEDs to produce white light. This started allowing for the production of power efficient LED screens that can be used in smartphones, tablets, televisions, computers, and many other electronic devices. In addition, the LED is the lighting solution for applications ranging from traffic lights and emergency vehicles, to navigation lights for ships.
One of the most important applications of the blue LED is the LED lamp. The LED lamp produces bright white light that emits 300 lumens per watt, which means it consumes only around 5% of the power required by an incandescent bulb. The white light emitted by these lamps is produced by combining the three colored LEDs, blue, red and green. The invention of the blue LED has a direct hand in reducing power consumption and it even lasts longer. The prolific usage of the LED lamp can contribute to saving fuel. LED lamps also charge faster with little solar power, allowing for the economical use of clean energy.
Additionally, blue LEDs and their products do not require mercury for production, making it an environmental friendly option that is also efficient. They can also be combined with other LED lights to create adjustable white lights that change color. This can lead to computer controlled LED panels that can shift colors. Other applications could be efficient greenhouse lighting to assist in growth of foliage. Now, adjustable lights to suit the natural biorhythm of the human body are being developed. They can even help in dealing with disease by highlighting problematic parasites and molecules.
Apart from lighting, the LED is also valuable as a light sensor, and is extremely useful in creating circuits for various applications. Ultra-violet LEDs, a direct impact of this invention, have aided the healthcare industry sterilizing hospital equipment and is now being tested to eliminate viruses like Ebola. From sterilizing water bottles, to energy efficient lighting, the blue LED has changed the course of human history, and is still continuing to do so.
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