Tiny particles make LED light more pleasing

Light-emitting diodes are prime candidates for replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs, but have a few things working against them.

NEW YORK — Light-emitting diodes are prime candidates for replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs, but have a few things working against them.

They can provide a pleasing warm light or they can be energy-efficient, but they haven’t been able to be both at the same time.

Two small companies showed off an LED lamp that’s both very power-efficient and produces a light similar to that of a standard tungsten or halogen bulb.

The LEDs in the lamp shine through a thin layer of “quantum dots,” a scattering of particles of very small but precisely controlled size.

When light hits them, they emit light of a different colour, much like the “phosphor” layer of a fluorescent tube.

The magic of quantum dots is that the colour they emit can be controlled very accurately by adjusting their size, which means less wasted energy and more pleasing colour.

The dots are so small that more than 10,000 of them could be could be lined up over the width of a human hair.

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