Silicones and LEDs – paving the way to a brighter future
Diodes (LEDs) are growing in use all around us. They provide keypad
backlighting for communications ... they are becoming increasingly popular in
large panel displays ... and they contribute to safety when used in automobile
brake lights and turn signals. LEDs are “instant on” devices. When traveling 96
kph (60 mph), you gain an extra 4.6 meters (15 feet) of stopping time if the
car in front of you is equipped with LED brake lights!
The LED industry is seeking ways to increase light output, improve
reliability, and extend the lifetime of LEDs and devices that use LED
technology. Silicone encapsulants provide these benefits, while minimizing the
impact on the environment.
Meeting the performance challenge
LED semiconductor “chips” are packaged in a variety of configurations that
emit light of a defined color. The chips must be encapsulated to enhance and
direct light output and to protect the chip from dust, moisture, and mechanical
damage. Traditional encapsulating materials, such as epoxy, discolor and have
soldering temperature restrictions that limited LED technology applications in
the past. Brighter LEDs, which are favored by consumers, can produce too much
heat at the chip surface, adversely affecting the surrounding encapsulant even
Silicone, however, can take the heat. Brighter LEDs, encapsulated in
silicone, are now being more widely used in cell phones, televisions, computer
monitors, traffic signals, and in vehicle interior and exterior lighting.
Health, environmental, and social benefits
Silicone encapsulants have a longer life than organic encapsulants,
reducing replacement and maintenance costs and solid waste.
New “high power” LEDs expand the range of cost-effective uses in lighting,
large displays, and automotive applications.
In regions where electrical power is not available, LED technology can
replace use of fuel-based lighting (kerosene, propane, and candles) via
rechargeable batteries or solar energy.
Silicone encapsulation permits lead-free solder manufacturing processes in
compliance with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive (RoHS).
Improving the quality of life for people everywhere
Silicone encapsulants for LEDs are paving the way for energy savings,
reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and less solid waste. Silicone technology
helps LEDs run brighter and last longer, providing new lighting possibilities
in many applications impacting personal health and safety.
In the future, expanded use of LEDs in both developed nations and emerging
geographies will improve the quality of life for people everywhere.
For more stories about how silicones are helping make our world safer and
more sustainable, read the Dow Corning Sustainability Report.