The LED is 50 years old, yet it’s still brand new.


very now and then, an invention comes along which changes everything in a huge, drastic way. The printing press, the cotton gin, alternating current, the light bulb, or the internet, to name a few. Each of this did something drastic, and some people even split history into categories “before” and “after” one of these inventions.

Holonyak is the chair professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As you can tell from the bowtie.

Sometimes, it can take a while to realize just how drastic an invention is. Like the LED, for example. The light emitting diode is an amazingly efficient way to transform electricity into light (compared to regular light bulbs, which generate more heat than light). We’ve talked about this before. They’re so amazingly efficient, in fact, that LED bulbs are taking over every light market: brake lights, flashlights, HDTVs, and even common light bulbs are being replaced with LED counterparts.

The LED: it’s one of the biggest steps towards energy efficiency we’ve ever taken, because we use light everywhere, all the time.

Check out this awesome video featuring Nick Holonyak, the physicist who invented the LED.

It’s sort of a commercial for GE, but this video shows that Holonyak is clearly a regular guy who happens to be an expert physicist.

“My mother was an orphan; my dad was a coal miner. They were not educated. But they both knew that school was important.”

His point towards the end is the big one, though: everywhere you go it’s just lights lights lights and more lights. And the LED is revolutionary because it’s a more efficient way of producing light.

This revolution means re-thinking a lot of existing products, and it also opens the door for new ones to be invented. Light technology is a huge market in this world. Is it your job?

Read on:


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