LED (5mm) – 5 pieces
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source that emits light when current flows through it. Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. The color of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photons) is determined by the energy required for electrons to cross the band gap of the semiconductor. White light is obtained by using multiple semiconductors or a layer of light-emitting phosphor on the semiconductor device.
Since light is generated within the solid semiconductor material, LEDs are described as solid-state devices. The term solid-state lighting, which also encompasses organic LEDs (OLEDs), distinguishes this lighting technology from other sources that use heated filaments (incandescent and tungsten halogen lamps) or gas discharge (fluorescent lamps).
Inside the semiconductor material of the LED, the electrons and holes are contained within energy bands. The separation of the bands (i.e. the bandgap) determines the energy of the photons (light particles) that are emitted by the LED.
The photon energy determines the wavelength of the emitted light, and hence its color. Different semiconductor materials with different bandgaps produce different colors of light. The precise wavelength (color) can be tuned by altering the composition of the light-emitting, or active, region.
LEDs are comprised of compound semiconductor materials, which are made up of elements from group III and group V of the periodic table (these are known as III-V materials). Examples of III-V materials commonly used to make LEDs are gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium phosphide (GaP).
Until the mid-90s LEDs had a limited range of colors, and in particular commercial blue and white LEDs did not exist. The development of LEDs based on the gallium nitride (GaN) material system completed the palette of colors and opened up many new applications.
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