When Dr Frankenstein created life, he used his knowledge of anatomy drawn from dissections and textbooks. Today, scientists and engineers tend to create items less ambitious than a human being. And instead of relying solely on textbooks and practical experience, they use computers. Engineers who develop LEDs are no exception.
Engineers who work with LED lighting have a variety of online tools and software to hand. A few years ago for example, Philips Lumileds and Future Lighting Solutions offered a suite of online tools free of charge on their websites.
The tools provide data to help engineers create the best LEDs for specific uses. The data covers lifespans, light output, drive currents and thermal management of LEDs.
Engineers also employ the tools to produce models for electrical, optical and mechanical design.
LEDs and SPICE
Such online tools have helped drive the development of LEDs for a wide range of uses. These include lamps, outdoor lights, commercial lighting systems and residential LED bulbs. The tools also link to what engineers refer to as SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis).
By performing a SPICE analysis, an engineer can test LED circuit designs and forecast circuit behaviour. This ensures new LEDs are as effective as possible.
LEDs and Webench
Computer tools such as National Semiconductor's Webench can perform a SPICE analysis. Webench also has additional features such as "LED Designer". This allows engineers to make the most of the energy-saving potential of LEDs in new lighting systems.
With the technology now available to them, engineers can create the perfect LEDs. And unlike Dr Frankenstein's monster, the results improve people's lives.