Who Invented LED Lights?

A Russian radio technician and inventor by the name of Oleg Vladimirovich Losev is credited for discovering and inventing LED lighting technology.


He spent many years researching and exploring the technology Yet it was decades after his death at a relatively young age before he was properly credited as the inventor of LEDs.

Losev, while working as a radio technician, noticed an unusual occurrence taking place in the diodes used in radios in the 1900s. The diodes emitted light whenever electrical currents were passed through them without creating noticeable heat.

Time Frame

Losev was born in 1903 in Russia. In 1927 he had an article about the discovery of light emitting diodes published in a Russian electronics journal. The same year, he filed a patent for what he called a "light relay device" to transmit telephone communications and images over high speed relays. After that, he published multiple pieces on LEDs in German and British journals.

He continued to work on developing his LED technology, going so far as to use Albert Einstein's quantum theory to explain why energy changes in electrons produced light without heat. According to TheInquirer.net, letters from Losev to Einstein himself received no response.

Losev continued his attempts to get work published with regard to the LED light until his death in 1942 at the age of 39.


It was long thought that four independent groups of American researchers discovered and developed LED technology in 1962. In reality that turned out to be false. It was not until the 2000s that credit was given to Losev. The April 2007 issue of "Nature Photonics" featured an article written by Nikolay Zheludev that publicly credits Losev as the original inventor.


Nikolay Zheludev believes that Losev may have also invented the transistor, due to a paper that Losev tried to publish in 1941 before his death. The paper discussed the possibility of using semiconductors in a three-terminal system to create a vacuum triode that may have been similar to the transistor.


Losev's light relay technology is the earliest version of the technology now used in fiber-optic technology, according to Tom Simonite from The New Scientist. Fiber-optic technology allows us to communicate and transfer data at high speeds over connection lines. LEDs themselves have been used for years as indicator lights on electronics and have been developed into energy efficient light bulb technology.

About the Author

Maxwell Payne has been a freelance writer since 2007. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. He holds a Bachelor of Science in integrated science, business and technology.