Stands for "Light-Emitting Diode." An LED is an electronic device that emits light when an electrical current is passed through it. Early LEDs produced only red light, but modern LEDs can produce several different colors, including red, green, and blue (RGB) light. Recent advances in LED technology have made it possible for LEDs to produce white light as well.
LEDs are commonly used for indicator lights (such as power on/off lights) on electronic devices. They also have several other applications, including electronic signs, clock displays, and flashlights. Since LEDs are energy efficient and have a long lifespan (often more than 100,000 hours), they have begun to replace traditional light bulbs in several areas. Some examples include street lights, the red lights on cars, and various types of decorative lighting. You can typically identify LEDs by a series of small lights that make up a larger display. For example, if you look closely at a street light, you can tell it is an LED light if each circle is comprised of a series of dots.
The energy efficient nature of LEDs allows them to produce brighter light than other types of bulbs while using less energy. For this reason, traditional flat screen LCD displays have started to be replaced by LED displays, which use LEDs for the backlight. LED TVs and computer monitors are typically brighter and thinner than their LCD counterparts.
Updated: July 31, 2009