In laymen’s terms, the light emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source. LEDs 101 sums up the principle of LEDs as this: “Imagine a grain of sand that emits a very bright light, usually red, amber, green or blue, depending on the material, when an electrical current is applied.”
Here are some advantages of using LEDs (taken from Wikipedia.com):
- “Efficiency: LEDs emit more light per watt than incandescent light bulbs. Their efficiency is not affected by shape and size, unlike fluorescent light bulbs or tubes.
- Size: LEDs can be very small and are easily populated onto printed circuit boards.
- Slow Failure: LEDs mostly fail by dimming over time, rather than the abrupt failure of incandescent bulbs.”
- Used In: traffic lights, billboards, sports arena scoreboards, TV back lights, cell-phone camera flashes, etc.
One neat way LEDs have improved modern civilization is through their use in the break lights of cars. Because LEDs can achieve full brightness in under a microsecond (0.5 seconds faster than incandescent bulbs), LED break lights give drivers more time to react. It is reported that at normal highway speeds, this equals one car length equivalent in increased time to react!
Besides the advantages upon humanity, LEDs also make entertaining (and artistic) DIY projects. Check out these Top 30 LED DIY Projects. Here’s my personal favorite: Cherry Blossom Lights, made by reusing old Christmas tree lights!