Mr. LED: First, I must say, the title of your piece is somewhat misleading. Although I’d like to claim credit for all the bright white light out there, I must give credit where credit is due. I, the LED, did not win the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. The award honors the innovation of three physicists, one American, a professor atUC Santa Barbara, and two Japan scientists, who invented the blue-emitting diode in the early 1990s. Blue diodes in combination with red– and green-emitting diodes have enabled the production of energy-efficient white LED light.
Lumiere Electric: I stand corrected. But it was the practical application of YOU, your benefit to humanity, which convinced the Nobel Committee, right?
Mr. LED: Yes, it was Alfred Nobel’s mission to have the prize be awarded for work benefitting mankind, something of societal value. To be sure, in 2014 the Nobel Committee recognized the accomplishments of a scientific breakthrough that does indeed have far-reaching, practical significance.
Lumiere Electric: Yes, it’s almost revolutionary. The blue light-emitting diodes complement the red– and green-emitting ones, the blend of which creates white light.
Mr. LED: Yes, that’s right. Seems like a light just went off above your head, n’est-ce pas?
Lumiere Electric: A bright one, I’m hoping. But joking aside, on a much grander scale, the implications of LED white light are transformative for our culture. Like Einstein receiving a Nobel Prize in 1922 for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
Mr. LED: Einstein, I wouldn’t go that far. But yes, I would have to agree with you that the discovery of the blue-emitting diode will have dramatic implications for our planet, especially as a lighting technology that can help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. But let’s back up a bit. People may be curious about the backstory of my life, that is, in context of the heavy-hitter of the lighting game, the incandescent bulb.
Lumiere Electric: Sure, for our readers, please put the LED—yourself—into historical context.
Mr. LED: As you may know, the iconic shape of the incandescent bulb and its technology remained virtually unchanged for more than a century—ever since Edison’s time. Red and green LED light have been around for about 50 years, and with the discovery of blue-emitting diode in the early 1990s the LED became the lighting technology of choice in hospitals, airports, educational facilities, roadways, and more.
But for residential use the incandescent has always reigned supreme. Recently, however, the revolutionary incandescent has gone the way of other once-great inventions. And theLED, which on just about every level is a superior technology, is fast becoming the lighting choice in American households. The rest of the world started figuring this out some time ago. The world-wide phase out of incandescent bulbs started in 2005.
Lumiere Electric: Yes, congress finally got wise to the fact that turning off the light to the incandescent, so to speak, was long overdue. A recent ban in the U.S. of the 100-watt incandescent and 60– and 40-watt bulbs took effect on January 1, 2014. What impact will this have on homeowners?