Every 36 months LED efficiency doubles. That means that your standard GU10 LED uses 1/3 of the energy as its predecessor! Pretty neat, huh! Since their rudimentary inception in 1907 the LED has proven to be one of the most innovative and evolving light sources yet invented by mankind. With each leap in efficiency and ability, the LED has become available for more purposes and to more people. Thanks to a pan-European project TREASORES, the LED panel is about to get even cheaper and more flexible. This article is going to chart the history of the LED’s development and take a quick look at its future.


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A History of LED Innovation

What is the history of the LED? The LED has been in constant development since 1907, and after a slow start has been continually improved and broadened by a wide range of international scientists. Here’s a quick chronology of events:


1907 - H.J. Round and Oleg Losev separately discover LEDs. Round used a cat’s whisker and silicon carbide.

1920s - Losev published an obscure paper on LEDs in radio sets and a report on light emissions from SiC. Papers were not seen until the 1950s.

1961 - Biard and Pittman develop an infrared LED, thus creating the first modern LED.

1962 - Holonyack develops the red LED, the first to produce visible light.

1972 - Maruska and Pankove create the violet LED.

1976 - Pearsall creates the first high brightness LED for fiber optic use.

1979 - Nakamura uses the violet LED to create a blue LED.

1994 - Nakamura creates the first high-brightness blue LED.

1995 - Barbieri demonstrates the transparent contact LED in Cardiff.


Meanwhile, parallel development of white LEDs for illumination and the development of the ever impressive semiconductor technology created an improvement graph known as Haitz’s Law. This states that light output per LED would double every 36 months and is named after Dr. Roland Haitz.

 Haitz Law


What is the Most Affordable Light Bulb?

This increase in efficiency and decrease in price has led LEDs into the lighting market. This has been aided by the banning of incandescent bulbs and future plans to limit halogen bulbs. LEDs now compare favourably with both fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and incandescent bulbs. Additionally, LEDs have even made their way into more specialized lighting objects such as LED Strip Lights and spotlights.


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 Light bulb expected lifespan

 1,200 hours

 10,000 hours

 50,000 hours

 Watts per bulb (eq. To 60W)




 KWh of electricity, 50,000 hours




 Bulbs per 50,000 hours





As demonstrated in the above chart, the LED is the most cost effective bulb. With prices changing all the time, it is impossible to chart energy costs and per unit price costs, but affordable LED lights are available now and they are proven to save hundreds of pounds for the average household. Studies are showing that they produce more consistent light, produce less heat per bulb, and last significantly longer than rival bulbs further proving their affordability.


What is the TREASORES Project?

TREASORES is short for Transparent Electrodes for Large Area Large Scale Production of Organic Optoelectronic Devices and was a Switzerland based pan-European research and development project. Spread over 5 countries, it involved 6 research institutions and 9 private companies, all tied together by Empa’s Frank Nuesch.

Completed toward the end of 2015, the TREASORES project finished with 7 patent applications and a dozen peer reviewed publications as well as making recommendations to international safety standard organizations. Although disbanded, the organization continues to file patents and publish papers which may lead to further breakthroughs with LED and more specifically, Organic LED/OLED technology.

The most promising outcome is the development of flexible lighting foils which can be produced on rolls, much like the paper used for printing newspapers. It is believed this latest evolution of the technology could lead to cheaper LED lighting as well as affordable solar cells. TREASORES has been able to achieve this by developing transparent electrode and barrier materials.


Are LEDs Going to Get Cheaper?

The development of the TREASORES project suggests that LED lights and especially LED panels are going to get cheaper as time goes on. It is not known if Haitz’s Law has an end point, but recent developments and increased market demand suggest that LED affordability will continue to grow as will their efficiency. If you still have some questions or uncertainties about LEDs in general, take a moment to check out our LED Guide highlighting security lighting or our DIY Guide and familiarize yourself with what we have to offer.


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