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Fascinating Silicone™ Innovation – Electronics


Silicones and LEDs – paving the way to a brighter future

Silicone encapsulants protect the light-emitting diode (LED) chips in graphic panel displays, computer screens, and traffic signals.Light-Emitting 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 more.

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.


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