LEDs and the Importance of Color Accuracy

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LEDs and the Importance of Color Accuracy

When LEDs first hit the market 50 years ago, they were red. The mixture, gallium arsenide phosphide, produced a natural red color which powered personal electronics such as watches and calculators. In the early 1990s, the technology evolved to include a bright blue, which with yellow phosphor coatings, produced white LED. Think flashlights and some streetlights that give off a bright-white, almost bluish glow. This became the light most-often associated with LEDs.

“I think a lot of people think that LED is energy saving, but it doesn’t look nice,” says Charles Selander, Director of Specification Sales at Soraa, a manufacturer of LEDs in the San Francisco Bay Area. “That may have been the case a few years back but the technology has evolved enormously.”

In fact, Soraa’s founder, Shuji Nakamura, invented the blue light emitting diode in 1993. Nakamura was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention, which “enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” The creation was groundbreaking in terms of energy savings, but by design standards the light was harsh and not ideal for home settings. Now that is changing.

In June, Selander presented to a group of interior designers at “LEDs and the Importance of Color Accuracy,” which was part of 7 Tide’s All-Day Learn and Lounge series. At the presentation, which was sponsored by Reflex Lighting, he explained the evolvement of LED technology and the improved methods of qualifying color fidelity and quality, which can help in selecting top-quality, color-accurate light sources for buildings and homes.

With the introduction of violet light, LEDs are now very close to mimicking natural light. Thankfully, the days of fluorescent lights in offices are over. Many new office buildings that are sprouting up here in the Seaport and beyond are taking advantage of these new lighting technologies. In the near future, Soraa will be introducing lighting solutions that are full spectrum in the morning for production, but then slowly remove blue in the afternoon and early evening to support circadian health. Other technology allows the industry to refract and shape light. Museums have taken advantage of this technology by illuminating works of art in new ways for their visitors.

The next step is introducing this new light source into homes, and according to Selander we’re not far off. “Quality is now on par with halogen—some lighting designers think it’s even better—since violet LEDs render white colors more vibrantly,” says Selander. “Costs while high are coming down, but are justifiable due to long life, no UV content and greatly improved energy consumption.”

Photograph courtesy of Soraa