Driving LEDs (I

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http://dev.emcelettronica.com/print/51767

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Driving LEDs (I)
By Emanuele Created 09/04/2008 - 09:47

BLOG Diodes by Franco Musiari [ DESIGN IN [1]] Driving the power LED depends on the application setting and it is not so trivial as it might appear. The LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) are diodes whose basic characteristic is the ability to emit light when they are passed through a current that flows from P to N region. At each recombination between the charge carriers (electrons and holes), on PN junction region, a photo emission is generated, and the total quantity of emitted photons, and therefore the light intensity, is proportional to the current intensity that passes through them. The emitted light has a spectrum – wavelengths distribution – that is defined according to the materials used in the realization of the diode PN junction, although it partially depends on the current intensity and on the junction temperature. The most common materials, used in LEDs production, are those belonging to the III° and V° group of the elements periodic table: • Gallium arsenide (GaAs) for light from infrared to red (650 nm); • Gallium arsenide and phosphate (GaAsP) for light from red to yellow (630-590 nm); • Gallium phosphate (GaP) for wavelength from blue to green (565 nm); • Gallium nitride (GaN) for blue light (430nm); • Indium and Gallium nitride (InGaN) for the deep blue until to ultraviolet (390 – 360nm); The white LEDs are realized and through LED combination of the three RGB basic colours and using blue LED covered with a semi-transparent layer of yellow emitting phosphorus. Voltage/Current Feature LEDs have a very similar behaviour to the standard diodes and they have a

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01.05.2008 15:49

Driving LEDs (I)

http://dev.emcelettronica.com/print/51767

VF direct voltage fall joined to the IF direct current as you can see on Fig. 1. The VF direct voltage depends on LED realization technology and it is about 1,4 – 2V for the GaAs, 2 – 2,5 for the GaAsP, 3 – 3,5 for the GaP e 3,8 – 4,5 for the InGaN (blue or white LEDs). But the variability, within the same device, is extremely wide as you can see on Fig. 1. It represents the minimum, typical and maximum features of Nichia NCSW215 diode. With a direct current of 20mA the voltage fall changes between 3,2 volt (minimum curve) and 4 volt (maximum curve) passing for 3,6 volt. One resistance it may be enough. The luminous intensity emitted by LED is proportional to the direct current that passes through it and, as a consequence, the driving circuit must be dimensioned on it. When the produced current is sufficiently higher than diode direct voltage and it is quite stable, we can adjust the LED current by a resistance (Fig. 1). This solution can be reasonable when the currents are limited – from 2 to 20 mA- and the current in use is not too much different from the LED direct current. If, for example, we suppose to have a supply voltage of 5 V and a red LED with VF of 1,8 V at 10mA, the RL resistance will be 320 ?The wasted power on the diode will be approximately equal to 18 mW while the resistance should support a power of 32 mW (almost twice that the one used by the LED). But if we suppose to operate in a car electronic circuit, with a voltage of 13,8 V and a red LED that at 45mA has a VF of 2,2 V, things change drastically. The RL resistance will be equal to (13,8 – 2,2) / 0,045 ? 258 ? (270 / 1W ). RL must disperse 11,6V x 0,045A ?0,52 W. The power total consumption is equal to 13,8V x 0,045A = 0,62 W for an efficiency equal to (2,2 • 0,045)W/0,62W ≈ 16%. But in automotive area, as well as in other areas, it is not enough considering the typical or nominal values. A car typical circuit can change at least between 9 and 16 V and must take into account the possibility of supporting also the double of the nominal value (27.2 V) for at least five minutes. Through the regulation realized with a resistance of 270 ? the current in the LED ( limit conditions) may vary from 25 to 93 mA. The LED must survive at 93 mA ( at least for 5 minutes) and shine (according to the specifics) with 25mA. But a current generator is safer. A solution to this problem is driving the LED through a current generator that must be
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Driving LEDs (I)

http://dev.emcelettronica.com/print/51767

the most indipendent from the current value. It is possible to realize a simple current generator with a transistor and few other components as you can see on Fig. 3. The current on the LED will be proportional to the D1 zener diode voltage and inversely proportional to the resistance RS (IF ≈ VD1 / RS). The D2 diode compensates the temperature variations of the transistor Vbe.

But the easier approach for DC systems, with voltages not particularly high, is to use linear regulators such as LM317 (offered by different manufacturers) or MC33269 of On Semiconductor or LM340 of National Semiconductor. Fig. 4 shows the last one, but the configuration does not change also for others regulators that work with the same criteria. In this scheme the regulator is configured as a current regulator, to be precised it works to maintain a voltage fall on RS equal to the VREF reference voltage peculiar to the regulator. As a consequence the current on the LED will be equal to VREF / RS . In most cases (e.g. LM317) this reference voltage is equal to 1.25 V. So, if you want to supply a LED array to 350mA, the control resistor RS should have the value of 3.6 ohms. The input voltage to the VIN circuit must be able to support the sum of : the VF voltage, overall of the LED array, the voltage fall on the control resistance (equal to VREF ) and the voltage fall minimum value that makes the regulator still operating. Anyway the dissipation problem still remains : • The one that is generated from the RS regulation resistance, passed through the same current that drives the LED(s) with a voltage fall equal to VREF (1,25 V) for an overall value of 1,25 • 0,35 = 0,44W; • The one dissipated in the regulator equal to (VIN – VREF – VF) • IF = (12 – 1,25 – 2 • 3,6*) • 0,35 = 1,24 W. (* note: LED Cree XL7090 has a VF of 3,6 v @ 350 mA) For an overall dissipation of about 1,68 W and an efficiency equal to (2 • 3,6 • 0,35) / (12 • 0,35) = 60%. Overall efficiency that decreases at the power increase due to the LEDs driving.

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Driving LEDs (I)

http://dev.emcelettronica.com/print/51767

Adapting switching power supplies The use of switching power supplies is ideal not only when the LEDs driving powers become consistent/significant (the Watt threshold can be reasonable) but also taking into account the different applicative situations (type of primary current). For example when: • The supply voltage is lower than LEDs VF, typical situation on portable devices that are battery powered; • The supply voltage is extremely higher of LEDs VF, as in the case the power comes directly from the mains power supply (220 V AC); • The supply voltage has a very high variability and/or may be higher or lower to VF . This solution may also lead to efficiencies higher than 80% ( and exceed, in some cases, 90%), results significantly higher compared to the solutions that we have seen in the previous pages. Eventual switching typologies, used in various situations, that will be analyzed later on: • Buck, • Boost, • SEPIC, • Boost/Buck (Cuk). This list is not exhaustive, the charge pumps and all the typologies with isolated output (flyback) are missing. Fig. 1 • IF curves minimum/typical/maximum as function of voltage piloting VF for the NSCW215 diode. (Courtesy of NSCW215) Fig. 2 • With a stable voltage the easiest way to adjust the current in the LED is a resistance. Fig. 3 • A simple configuration for a constant current generator. Fig. 4 • Source of constant current obtained with a simple linear regulator.

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Source URL: http://dev.emcelettronica.com/driving-leds-i Links: [1] http://www.design-in.tecnoimprese.it/page.asp?ln=2

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