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What's a LED?
Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs are found in a wide variety of everyday electronic devices. From the on/off indicator light on your computer to remote controls, flashlights, traffic lights, digital clocks and more. LEDs are ubiquitous in modern society.
LEDs have several advantages over traditional incandescent bulbs: 1) LEDs last much longer since they have no filaments to burn out. 2) Since they have no filament to heat up they emit much less heat than incandescent bulbs and thus work more efficiently. 3) Their small size makes them ideal for today's ever shrinking electronic circuits.
To understand how LEDs produce light we need to take a closer look at the diode. A diode is a simple semiconductor device. A semiconductor is a material with a varying ability to conduct an electric current. A diode is made up of two semiconductor material layers bonded together with wires on each end.
One layer called the N-type
material comprises an excess of negatively charge particles (electrons),
while the other P-type layer has a depletion of electrons or positively
charged “holes” where free electrons from the N-type material can move in
and occupy. When enough voltage (from a battery for example) is applied
across the diode, the electrons from the N-type material are forced to
move into the P-type material occupying vacant positively charged holes.
The movement of electrons across the junction between the two materials
produces an electric current and the production of visible light. To
understand where the light comes from we need to take a closer look at the
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