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Full spectrum with a spike of blue light
LEDs (light-emitting diodes) create light when an electric current — a flow of electrons — passes through a special material called a semiconductor. As the name implies, a semiconductor allows some, but not all, of a current to pass through. Crystals made of pure silicon don’t conduct electricity. But when a small amount of an additional substance such as phosphorus is introduced into the crystal, it upsets the equilibrium of the material and activates the electrons inside. When an electrical current is applied to the crystal, some of this activation energy is released in the form of light. NASA pioneered the use of LEDs for growing plants as a result of their research on the best lighting technology to produce edible crops in space.
Last updated: 1/16/18
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