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Initial Commercial Development Of LED And Blue LED
- Sep 14, 2017 -

  The first commercial LEDs were commonly used as replacements for incandescent and neon indicator lamps, and in seven-segment displays, first in expensive equipment such as laboratory and electronics test equipment, then later in such appliances as TVs, radios, telephones, calculators, as well as watches. Until 1968, visible and infrared LEDs were extremely costly, in the order of US$200 per unit, and so had little practical use. The Monsanto Company was the first organization to mass-produce visible LEDs, using gallium arsenide phosphide (GaAsP) in 1968 to produce red LEDs suitable for indicators. Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduced LEDs in 1968, initially using GaAsP supplied by Monsanto. These red LEDs were bright enough only for use as indicators, as the light output was not enough to illuminate an area. Readouts in calculators were so small that plastic lenses were built over each digit to make them legible. Later, other colors became widely available and appeared in appliances and equipment. In the 1970s commercially successful LED devices at less than five cents each were produced by Fairchild Optoelectronics. These devices employed compound semiconductor chips fabricated with the planar process invented by Dr. Jean Hoerni at Fairchild Semiconductor. The combination of planar processing for chip fabrication and innovative packaging methods enabled the team at Fairchild led by optoelectronics pioneer Thomas Brandt to achieve the needed cost reductions. LED producers continue to use these methods.

Most LEDs were made in the very common 5 mm T1¾ and 3 mm T1 packages, but with rising power output, it has grown increasingly necessary to shed excess heat to maintain reliability, so more complex packages have been adapted for efficient heat dissipation. Packages for state-of-the-art high-power LEDs bear little resemblance to early LEDs.

Blue LED

Blue LEDs were first developed by Herbert Paul Maruska at RCA in 1972 using gallium nitride (GaN) on a sapphire substrate.SiC-types were first commercially sold in the United States by Cree in 1989.However, neither of these initial blue LEDs were very bright.

The first high-brightness blue LED was demonstrated by Shuji Nakamura of Nichia Corporation in 1994 and was based on InGaN. In parallel, Isamu Akasakiand Hiroshi Amano in Nagoya were working on developing the important GaN nucleation on sapphire substrates and the demonstration of p-type doping of GaN. Nakamura, Akasaki, and Amano were awarded the 2014 Nobel prize in physics for their work. In 1995, Alberto Barbieri at the Cardiff University Laboratory (GB) investigated the efficiency and reliability of high-brightness LEDs and demonstrated a "transparent contact" LED using indium tin oxide (ITO) on (AlGaInP/GaAs).

In 2001 and 2002, processes for growing gallium nitride (GaN) LEDs on silicon were successfully demonstrated. In January 2012, Osram demonstrated high-power InGaN LEDs grown on silicon substrates commercially.