Bright outlook for LEDs

It's now almost 40 years since the light-emitting diode (LED) was developed. The original devices emitted...

Nov 1st, 2002

It's now almost 40 years since the light-emitting diode (LED) was developed. The original devices emitted (dimly) at 655 nm and were based on gallium, arsenic, and phosphorous. Since then, a variety of different material systems have emerged. Brightness has increased significantly and emission wavelengths range across the spectrum from the red into the near-ultraviolet. The LED has become ubiquitous, with applications ranging from watches, calculators, and cell phones to traffic lights and store signs. But one of the more intriguing potential applications has yet to emerge—that of general lighting or illumination. For a variety of reasons we still have some way to go before optoelectronic devices can replace current incandescent and fluorescent lighting fixtures (see ["Focus On: Illumination"]). Nonetheless the prospect of solid-state lighting is driving much of today's research and development activities involving LEDs.

In fact, according to several of the talks at this year's SPIE Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, increasing academic, industry, and government resources are focusing on continuing the growth of LED-based illumination technology . . . toward the very attractive horizon of general illumination (see ["Focus On: Illumination"]). Given today's general economic environment, the meeting's relatively upbeat assessment of current LED technology and markets—which have apparently remained stable despite an otherwise falling semiconductor market—is very refreshing. A feeling reinforced by the outlook for a return to normal growth trends in 2003, and long-term prospects for increasing optoelectronic penetration of general lighting markets.

Young Investigator Award

The New Year is fast approaching and with it comes Photonics West in San Jose, CA. The best paper presented there by a young researcher who has graduated within five years of the conference is eligible for the Young Investigator Award, which is given annually in memory of Heather Williamson Messenger, former Executive Editor of Laser Focus World. The award consists of a cash prize and publication of the winning paper in Laser Focus World. To qualify for the award, the researcher must be the principal author.

If you're interested, submit a letter with the final manuscript to SPIE (Bellingham, WA) nominating your paper for consideration and certifying that the qualifications for the award have been met. A photocopy of your most recent diploma and five copies of the manuscript must accompany the letter. All materials must be received at SPIE by the manuscript due date of Dec. 30, 2002. For more information visit

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