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Ironduke
16 Apr 05,, 11:36
LED evolution could replace light bulbs

NEW YORK - If a time traveler from a hundred years ago were to visit a home today, much of the technology would be completely alien. The television, cordless phone and computer would probably leave him flabbergasted.

But on seeing a light bulb, he might say, "Ah! Here's something I recognize. A few of those grace my home, too."

If the visitor comes back in 15 years, the fruit of Thomas Edison's bright idea may be gone. The likely replacement: light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

LED lamps were unthinkable until the technology cleared a major hurdle just a dozen years ago. Since then, LEDs have evolved quickly and are being adapted for many uses, including pool illumination and reading lights, as evidenced at the Lightfair trade show here this week.

More widespread use could lead to big energy savings and a minor revolution in the way we think about lighting.

LEDs have been around since the 60s, but have mostly been relegated to showing the time in an alarm clock or the battery level of a video camera.

They haven't been used as sources of illumination because they, for a long time, could not produce white light only red, green and yellow. Nichia Chemical of Japan changed that in 1993 when it started producing blue LEDs, which combined with red and green produce white light, opening up a whole new field for the technology.

And the industry has been quick to exploit it. LEDs are based on semiconductor technology, just like computer processors, and are increasing in brightness, energy efficiency and longevity in a way that's reminiscent of the way each year's new crop of processors is faster and cheaper than last year's.

Just this week, researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., said they had boosted the light output per watt of a white LED to almost six times that of an incandescent light bulb, beating even a compact fluorescent bulb in efficiency.

The current generation of mass-produced white LEDs is not as effective. It's about twice as good as a light bulb of the same wattage, but the energy savings aren't enough to overcome the major drawback of being expensive.

"It's hard to convince consumers based on energy savings alone," said Nadarajah Narendran, director of lighting research at Rensselaer. "If you look at compact fluorescent lamps, they're four times as efficient as incandescent lights, and how many homes have those? It's less than 5 percent penetration."

Read more here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7504522/page/2/

bonehead
17 Apr 05,, 19:37
I have converted to fluorescent in the home. Still prefer the more "natural" light of indandescents and sometimes the flickering of fluorescent lights is annoying. I am eagerly looking forward to LEDs in the home. I already have several LED flashlights and headlamps.