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Phosphor based LEDs
Spectrum of a white LED clearly showing blue light which is directly emitted by the GaN-based LED (peak at about 465 nm) and the more broadband Stokes-shifted light emitted by the Ce3+:YAG phosphor which emits at roughly 500700 nm.

This method involves coating an LED of one color (mostly blue LED made of InGaN) with phosphor of different colors to produce white light, the resultant LEDs are called phosphor based white LEDs. A fraction of the blue light undergoes the Stokes shift being transformed from shorter wavelengths to longer. Depending on the color of the original LED, phosphors of different colors can be employed. If several phosphor layers of distinct colors are applied, the emitted spectrum is broadened, effectively increasing the color rendering index (CRI) value of a given LED.

Phosphor based LEDs have a lower efficiency than normal LEDs due to the heat loss from the Stokes shift and also other phosphor-related degradation issues. However, the phosphor method is still the most popular technique for manufacturing high intensity white LEDs. The design and production of a light source or light fixture using a monochrome emitter with phosphor conversion is simpler and cheaper than a complex RGB system, and the majority of high intensity white LEDs presently on the market are manufactured using phosphor light conversion.

The greatest barrier to high efficiency is the seemingly unavoidable Stokes energy loss. However, much effort is being spent on optimizing these devices to higher light output and higher operation temperatures. For instance, the efficiency can be increased by adapting better package design or by using a more suitable type of phosphor. Philips Lumileds" patented conformal coating process addresses the issue of varying phosphor thickness, giving the white LEDs a more homogeneous white light. With development ongoing, the efficiency of phosphor based LEDs is generally increased with every new product announcement.

Technically the phosphor based white LEDs encapsulate InGaN blue LEDs inside of a phosphor coated epoxy. A common yellow phosphor material is cerium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (Ce3+:YAG).

White LEDs can also be made by coating near ultraviolet (NUV) emitting LEDs with a mixture of high efficiency europium-based red and blue emitting phosphors plus green emitting copper and aluminium doped zinc sulfide (ZnS:Cu, Al). This is a method analogous to the way fluorescent lamps work. This method is less efficient than the blue LED with YAG:Ce phosphor, as the Stokes shift is larger and more energy is therefore converted to heat, but yields light with better spectral characteristics, which render color better. Due to the higher radiative output of the ultraviolet LEDs than of the blue ones, both approaches offer comparable brightness. Another concern is that UV light may leak from a malfunctioning light source and cause harm to human eyes or skin.

[edit] Other white LEDs

Another method used to produce experimental white light LEDs used no phosphors at all and was based on homoepitaxially grown zinc selenide (ZnSe) on a ZnSe substrate which simultaneously emitted blue light from its active region and yellow light from the substrate