The majority of encyclopedic sources state the year, when conventional light-emitting diodes first appeared, to be 1962, soon after diode laser has been invented. However, light-emitting diodes have appeared much earlier, as a result of the research of Soviet inventor, physicist Oleg Vladimirovich Losev.
Last issue of Nature Photonics scientific magazine contains an interesting article, dedicated to 100 anniversary of optoelectronics. First time, when phenomenon of fluorescence under current passage through semiconducting materials was detected, was in the beginning of the XX century – Henry Round, assistant of Guglielmo Marconi, noticed the phenomenon and described it in a very short article (it was shorter than one page) on this issue in the Electrical World magazine in 1907, however, no more research results or articles on this topic have been published. Oleg Losev, who apparently has never come across Round's note, published a number of articles on studying semiconducting materials in several Soviet, English and German scientific magazines in the twenties of the previous century. Oleg Vladimirovich has also patented some of his inventions in the USSR.
Oleg Vladimirovich Losev was the first, who has observed fluorescence, while rectifier diodes, created on the basis of zinc oxide and silicone carbide, worked – this observarion the physicist made in the mid-twenties of the last century. In his article, which has come of the press in the magazine called Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony in 1927, Oleg Vladimirovich gave detailed description of fluorescence, appearing in carborundum (synonym for “silicone carbide”), as well as determined threshold current, required for such a phenomenon to surprise scientists.
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Between 1924 and 1930 eminent phisicist has published 16 articles, which were dedicated to abovementioned effect – they covered wide range of its properties, such as emission spectra, voltage-current characteristics, as well as discovered nonthermal nature of the radiation. Furthermore, Losev has succeeded in developing radiation modulator by means of supplying alternating voltage with frequency reaching 78.5 kHz to contact between metla and semiconducting material.
It was 1929 when Oleg Vladimirovich Losev received the USSR patent No. 12191 for inventing light relay based on modulation principle mentioned earlier. Thus, since we consider Henry Round to be the discoverer of electroluminescence phenomenon, then Oleg Losev made an essential contribution in development of that very physical field, from which modern light diodes and optoelectronics appeared later.
Oleg Losev did his best to draw attention of most famous and well-known scientists to his discoveries. It is known that he wrote a letter to Albert Einstein, where he asked the genius to create theoretical explanations for these phenomena from the point of view quantum theory of light had at that time, but, unfortunately, he got no answer. Oleg Losev’s contribution to development of science was highly appreciated by foreigh experts. In 1976 Egon Loebner has published a thorough and detailed research on Losev’s works. Recently the university of Nizhny Novgorod has published collected articles of Oleg Losev, called “Ahead of the time” and telling about biography and scientific heritage of one of most eminent cientists of the pevious century –Oleg Vladimirovich Losev.