February 13, 2019
LED Chips: What They Are and Why They Matter
There are several factors that contribute to overall LED
light quality. As we’ve explored before on our blog, this may be measured by
uniformity and adjustability. Another aspect of LED technology to focus on is
the construction of the lights themselves — specifically LED chips. These small
units are what collectively make up the light and they matter more than one
might initially think.
What is a LED chip?
The most fundamental aspect of any LED light is the LED chip, which is also known as the die. You probably already know that LED actually stands for light emitting diode; what you may not know is the diode itself is found on the LED chip. These miniscule components are made of layers of semiconductor material – usually gallium arsenide, gallium phosphide, or gallium arsenide phosphide. Exciting, recent research has discovered that perovskites, self-assembling nanoparticles, may also be used as efficient semiconductor material. Different materials result in different wavelengths in light, making different LED colors possible.
One layer of this semiconductor material will have an excess of electrons, while the other will have a deficit — this is accomplished by introducing intentional impurities during the manufacturing process. These impurities cause the electrons to move between the layers and, therefore, create light. Due to advancements in technology, these layers can be made as thin as .5 micron or less — extremely small.
A wire is then installed to bring electricity to and from the LED chip. This wire is commonly made from silver or gold, due to these materials’ ability to withstand use and because they form a chemical bond with gallium. As a final step, the LED is encased inside a cover — some manufactures use plastic, others use silicone. We recommend tempered glass for the most durability and clearest light.
How to protect your LED chips — and therefore, your LED lights
Taking care of the LED chip can ensure LED lights’ optimal performance and long lifespan. A few ways to ensure the LED chip is well cared for:
- Don’t overuse your LED lights. While we understand the temptation to keep LED lights on full intensity for extended periods of time, this can result in harming your plants and degrading the LED chip. A better approach is finding the perfect balance of light and dark, cool and warm spectrum and varying intensities.
- Protect LED chips from corrosive elements. Certain chemicals can irreversibly damage the LED chip. An industrially designed infrastructure and tempered glass covering can best protect the delicate chip.
- Avoid overheating or cooling. While the LED lights themselves run cool, it is generally recommended to avoid exposing LED lights to extreme temperatures as this can shorten their lifespan. It’s not a good idea to install an LED right next to your air conditioning unit.
Chips are the most necessary and fundamental aspect of any LED lighting fixture. Therefore, chips must be manufactured with durability and efficiency in mind. The ideal LED light’s chips have few inconsistencies in color, while maintaining voltage and intensity. A well-made chip results in an effective and uniform LED light, able to support a variety of crop types.