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How LEDs Work. Why are LEDs important? Most lamps emit light by using an electric current to heat a filament wire to a high temperature (white hot) This.

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Presentation on theme: "How LEDs Work. Why are LEDs important? Most lamps emit light by using an electric current to heat a filament wire to a high temperature (white hot) This."— Presentation transcript:

1 How LEDs Work

2 Why are LEDs important? Most lamps emit light by using an electric current to heat a filament wire to a high temperature (white hot) This is very inefficient, so to generate the electricity needed a relatively large amount of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from power stations LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

3 New Lamps for Old An LED is a small lamp that uses electricity to generate light without getting hot LEDs operate with low voltages and currents, although some can have built in electronics to allow them to be used on the mains In an LED an electric current can generate light very efficiently, so that much less energy is consumed and less greenhouse gases are released What is an LED?

4 Efficient conversion of electricity to light LEDs are available in many colours, including white LEDs can be made that emit invisible Infrared and Ultra Violet light LEDs are now used in cars, traffic lights, domestic and industrial lighting and many other applications White LEDs are already more efficient than compact fluorescent lamps Research indicates that they can still improve by a factor of 5 beyond this What do LEDs offer us?

5 Other characteristics The intensity of the light is proportional to the current flowing An LED can continue to emit light for over 20 years with little change The light from an LED can follow changes in the current very rapidly, up to millions of times a second (because they dont need to heat up and cool down) – this means that their light can carry information As their numbers grow, then their price will fall substantially Anything else?

6 How do LEDs Work? Basic principles of electricity and LEDs

7 Electric currents An electric current is due to the flow of billions upon billions upon billions of tiny particles called electrons. Electrons flow from a region of low (or negative) voltage to one with a higher (or positive) voltage (this can be created by a battery). electrons

8 Meet an electron. It is part of a vast family where everyone looks identical. Each electron is a tiny particle that causes electricity. Electrons are found in every material. Electrons Like most family members electrons need their own space and repel other family members if they get too close.

9 Conductors and Insulators In an electrical conductor electrons are free to move about easily. Metals are electrical conductors. In an electrical insulator electrons are not able to move about easily. Materials such as gases, plastics, rubber and glass are common electrical insulators. Electrical Materials

10 Semiconductors. A semiconductor is a funny material where some electrons may have enough energy to travel about freely, but only if they are warm enough, or in a bright light. As its name suggests, a semiconductor has properties in between those of an electrical conductor and an electrical insulator.

11 When two semiconductors are joined, they can form a step. For the electrons to flow around the circuit they must gain energy to flow through the wire to the top of the step. This energy can come from a battery or power supply BATTERY Electrons and semiconductors

12 LEDs are made of semiconductors An LED can be made from two semiconductors joined in this way and connected to a battery, or power supply. Light is emitted as each electron falls down the step More falling electrons means a brighter light




16 Other types of LED LEDs can emit many different colours of light The height of the step required increases as the colour of the light moves through the spectrum from Red to Blue and Violet Red

17 Polarity of Battery or DC Supply For an LED to emit light it must be correctly connected to the battery, or power supply The voltage applied must be more than the minimum for the colour emitted It will not emit light (and may be damaged) if the voltage is connected the wrong way round, as shown below The circuit symbol for an LED is The head of the arrow shape must always point to the negative terminal for light to be emitted The long lead on an LED should be connected to the positive terminal of the supply + In order to limit the current, a resistor is always used in series with an LED to prevent it overheating (+ -) although this may be built into some lamps

18 What are LEDs used for? WhiteLEDsare used in torches, as backlights forLCDs, and as room lights, underwater lights and vehicle headlights ColouredLEDsare used in indicator lights, in traffic lights, tail/signal lights in vehicles and decorative lights ColouredLEDsare also used in digital scanners and autofocus lights in digital cameras They are also used in computer mice and simple displays InfraredLEDsare used in remote controls, webcams, sensors & security cameras UltravioletLEDsare used to reveal secret signatures and security markings on property & banknotes Many other things

19 An LED converts electrical energy to light energy. They can be made in many colours, including white They already have many useful applications They are much more efficient than filament lamps and environmentally friendly compact fluorescent lamps They generate much less heat and can last for >20 years They generate their light by electrons falling down a step. They will become much more affordable as more of them are sold Summary

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