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The Story of Semiconductors$
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John W. Orton

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559107.001.0001

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Let there be light

Let there be light

(p.277) Chapter 7 Let there be light
The Story of Semiconductors

John Orton

Oxford University Press

Red light emitting p-n diodes (LEDs) became prominent in the 1960s based on GaAsP and GaP, finding application in alpha-numeric displays and as indicator lamps. Much improved brightness became available from AlGaAs in the 1970s, together with orange and yellow emission from InGaAlP. Modest efficiencies in the green were also available from GaP doped with nitrogen. Blue emission could be obtained from SiC, but only with very poor efficiency. Full colour had to wait until the middle of the nineties when Akasaki, then Nakamura in Japan developed bright blue and green diodes based on InGaN. This enabled the fabrication of white light emitters either by combining red, green, and blue LEDs or by using a blue LED to excite a suitable phosphor. Current LEDs are some five times more efficient than tungsten lamps and are set to replace them for general lighting in the foreseeable future. Nakamura also developed a blue laser diode for application in the DVD player.

Keywords:   LED, efficiency, brightness, alpha-numeric displays, blue laser diode, DVD player, white light emitter

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