A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices, and are increasingly used for lighting. Introduced as a practical electronic component in 1962,early LEDs emitted low-intensity red light, but modern versions are available across the visible, ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths, with very high brightness.
The LED is based on the semiconductor diode. When a diode is forward biased (switched on), electrons are able to recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence and the color of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photon) is determined by the energy gap of the semiconductor. An LED is usually small in area (less than 1 mm2), and integrated optical components are used to shape its radiation pattern and assist in reflection.LEDs present many advantages over incandescent light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size, faster switching, and greater durability and reliability. However, they are relatively expensive and require more precise current and heat management than traditional light sources. Current LED products for general lighting are more expensive to buy than fluorescent lamp sources of comparable output.
They also enjoy use in applications as diverse as replacements for traditional light sources in automotive lighting (particularly indicators) and in traffic signals. The compact size of LEDs has allowed new text and video displays and sensors to be developed, while their high switching rates are useful in advanced communications technology.