Happy Birthday LED! LEDs Turn 50!

Nick Holonyak created the first visible-spectrum LED in 1962. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Holonyak/GE

50 years ago on October 9, 1962, GE scientist Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr., invented the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode (LED) while his colleagues were working on a laser using light in the invisible IR spectrum.  According to Holonyak, he was mystified that his colleagues were using invisible IR light. “If they can make a laser, I can make a better laser than any of them because I’ve made this alloy that is in the red-visible,” said Holonyak. “And I’m going to be able to see what’s going on. And they’re stuck in the infrared.”

GE scientist Dr. Robert N. Hall was working toward realizing a semiconductor laser in the infrared with GaAs (Gallium arsenide), Holonyak aimed for the visible with GaAsP (gallium arsenide phosphide). On October 9th, with GE colleagues looking on, Holonyak became the first person to operate a visible semiconductor alloy laser, the device that illuminated the first visible LED.

His colleagues at GE at the time dubbed the device ‘the magic one’ because its light, unlike infrared lasers, was visible to the human eye.  Holonyak was confident that he was onto something big.  In a GE interview, he remembers feeling that he was onto something big when ‘the magic one’ first lit up.  “I know that I’m just at the front end but I know the result is so powerful,” he said.  “There’s no ambiguity about the fact that this has got a life way beyond what we’re seeing.”

Today, LEDs can be used for a range of lighting and industrial applications from simple indicator lights to LED street lights, LED light bulbs for the home, office and commercial applications in retail including Home Depot, IKEA, Starbucks, Target, and Wal-mart, and even to regional grocery and convenience stores like Food City and Wawa.  LEDs also are used for display and backlighting in stadium TVs to consumer HDTVs and today’s smart phones and tablets like the iPad.

For Further Reading and Viewing

GE Video Interview, Nick Holonyak, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKkzBVNozjI

Solid State Technology, GE News Release, LED Inventor Nick Holonyak Reflects on Discovery 50 Years Later, http://www.electroiq.com/semiconductors/2012/10/10/led-inventor-nick-holonyak-reflects-on-discovery-50-years-later.html

LED 50th Anniversary Symposium,  http://www.led50years.illinois.edu/

Wired, How Lasers Inspired the Inventor of the LED, http://www.wired.com/design/2012/10/holonyak-laser-led-inventor/

 

Marriott HQ Greens Up with LED Make-Over from GE Lighting

Marriott’s new LED signage at their HQ in Bethesda, MD

Companies of all kinds and sizes are getting greener – to help the planet and to save money.  GE Lighting, founded by the father of the incandescent bulb, Thomas Edison, recently helped convert Marriott International headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland to LED lighting from top to bottom and inside out.  The famous lodging company had three goals for the project: enrich lighting quality, heighten employee security and improve energy efficiency. The retrofit project covered both the interior of the building and exterior. When the corporate campus-wide lighting is complete, Marriott anticipates that they will use 860,000 fewer kilowatt hours (kWhs) of electricity and save more than $120,000 in combined energy and maintenance costs a year.  You can view a video case study of the project here.

Marriott is not alone in retrofitting their corporate campus for the aesthetic, security and energy saving benefits. According to market research firm Strategies Unlimited, the commercial and industrial LED lighting segment was the largest LED in lighting segment in 2011.  Strategies Unlimited forecast revenues to grow to $1.2 billion in 2016, following a CAGR of 13%.

GE Lighting began the Marriott project with a comprehensive audit of Marriott’s existing lighting systems including photometric analysis with 3D renderings of the new system and forecast Marriott’s energy and maintenance savings.

Project Highlights:

LED lighting at Marriott’s outdoor parking and parking deck areas

Parking areas: LEDs now illuminate Marriott’s outdoor lots using 230 Evolve LED Area Lights, while a combination of LED garage light fixtures, LED flood lights and T8 fluorescents provide light for the parking decks and walkways. Marriott estimates the savings to be 280-watts per outdoor lighting fixture reducing energy use by 580,000 kWhs a year, equating to $70,000 in utility cost savings. In addition, new dimming technology will help control and reduce light output to 40 percent while the parking deck is vacant and adjusts to 100 percent when motion is detected saving $11,000 in energy (88,000-kWh reduction) each year.

LED lighting in the foyer at Marriott’s HQ

Interior:  Marriott’s eight-floor, 900,000-square-foot headquarters is now a showplace for LED lighting.  GE replaced 1,000 65-watt bulbs with 7-watt LED lamps in all hallways. The 58-watt difference delivers nearly $18,000 savings (150,000-kWh savings) in electricity expense over 261 working days.  In the multi-story foyer, special scaffolding is required to reach fixtures. In the past, Marriott would change the lights just about one to two years on average at a cost close to $3,000.  GE replaced 12 90-watt bulbs with 20-watt LED lamps. Rated for 50,000 hours of life, GE’s LEDs could keep the scaffolding away for up to seven years.  Management found the halogen and CFL lighting in Marriott’s auditorium inadequate for Marriott’s advanced dimming system. While the halogen lights could be darkened, the CFLs could not. GE installed dimmable LED lamps producing a fully dimmable system with higher light levels and more light uniformity as well as $2,300 in energy savings.  The building’s lower level that includes a daycare and cafeteria got special LED light panels (troffers).  These 2’x2’ fixtures produce a perfectly even glow and while off appear completely free of a light source to blend in with the ceiling, enhancing the aesthetic of Marriott’s employee space.

Finally, the project will retrofit the ‘Marriott’ sign at the Bethesda headquarters entrance with Tetra® PowerStrip LED lighting, improving maintenance cycles from two to three times per year to once every five to 10 years.

For Further Reading:

GE Lighting Solutions, GE LED lighting brings new radiance, energy savings to Marriott headquarters, http://www.gelightingsolutions.com/lighting-news-releases/ge-led-lighting-brings-new-radiance-energy-savings-to-marriott-headquarters

Marriott – GE Lighting Solutions Case Study Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucdxI_Y41-8