LEDs and Beyond: Seeking a Perfect but Efficient White Light

Jun 24, 2014

Graduate student Lauren Powell shines a blue LED through vials of Quantum Dots, manufactured by Pittsburgh-based Crystalplex. Each vial contains trillions of nanoparticles.
Credit Ashley Murray / The Allegheny Front

Frank Jones, a lighting distributor for Tri-State Supply, has become something of an expert on light emitting diodes, better known as LEDs.  He says that's because each of his customers wants something different.

"I have one individual customer that has an administration building.  The hallway wants one color.  The conference room, they want nice, warm 2700K, and then Gary the accountant wants nice, white bright 5000," Jones says.

First, let’s clarify those numbers. They describe the LEDs’ color, which is measured in something called Kelvin, or K.  A cool blue is 5000, while 2700 indicates a warm yellow.  Most people want a classic white, so that their rooms look the same as what they’re used to with incandescent bulbs.

Manufacturers currently make white by covering a blue LED with a yellow chemical compound called a phosphor.  But layering color this way steals about 15 percent of the LEDs’ efficiency.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner The Allegheny Front.