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© picture-alliance, Sven Simon
German Trends and Innovations

March 20, 2008

Ray of Hope for the Environment

Would you like a light source that consumes significantly less electricity and lasts much longer than light bulbs, withstands vibration without damage and at the same time shines more brightly than almost all other kinds of lamp? What sounds like a futuristic dream received the 2007 German Future Prize from Federal President Horst Köhler at the end of last year: Osram’s new generation of highly efficient light-emitting diodes. Known as LEDs for short, these small light sources have been around for some time, but only now are they bright enough to replace conventional lamps. The heart of an LED is a small semiconductor chip that generates light when it receives an electric charge. The intensity of this light used to be very low. As a result, they were only used where brightness was not important – for example, for the indicator lights in electrical appliances or in telephone displays. The Osram engineers succeeded in dramatically increasing the amount of light produced by integrating a metal reflector in the chip and then combining several LEDs to form large blocks. With the aid of this thin-film technology, LEDs can now be used in television screens, street lamps and projectors as well as in headlights and nightsight equipment for cars. This will save tonnes of CO2 and lots of money: no other light source generates light of such intensity with so little electricity.

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© Deutschland magazine/February/March 2008/Roland Knauer



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