It was 50 years ago today when a then 33-year-old scientist at General Electric invented the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode, a device that GE colleagues at the time called “the magic one” because its light, unlike infrared lasers, was visible to the human eye.

Dr. Nick Holonyak, Jr. could not have known then the door he was opening, but today LEDs are not only the foundation of a massive government-driven push to eliminate the popular (but higher energy consuming) incandescent, but also a potentially enormous market for the manufacturers of LED and driver printed circuit boards at the core of LEDs.

LEDs contain metal or graphite core bare boards, generally with lead-free solder paste. They are not easy to rework, on account of their heat-sinking core. The LED components are typically surface-mounted, although some versions have radial-leaded parts, explains Scott Maudlin of LEDnovation, an OEM of residential and industrial LED lighting.

Many PCB and EMS companies have an opportunity to play in this market today, thanks to one man's bright idea 50 years ago. We owe Holonyak a big round of applause.


Image courtesy Scott Maudlin, LEDnovation

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