Q & A
Comparing LASERs and LEDs for use in Cold Laser Equipment
A light-emitting diode or LED is a semiconductor light source with properties between an incandescent light bulb and laser. When an LED is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. The color of the light defines the properties of the light and the corresponding energy of the photons. Early LEDs emitted low-intensity red light (610-760nm) , but modern versions are available in a wider variety of wavelengths including the infrared wavelengths required for deep tissue penetration (the therapeutic window). LED light is non-Coherent (radiating in all directions) and divergent. Typical LEDs are designed to operate with 30â??60 milliwatts [mW] of electrical power. LEDs can be switched fast but they can not be super-pulsed. The vast majority of devices containing LEDs are classified as Class 1 LED products but LEDs can fall under the some limitation of LASERs if the power density is high enough. LEDs can
LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is a mechanism for emitting electromagnetic radiation via the process of stimulated emission. Cold Laser light is:
- Monochromatic in a wavelength that allow for the best penetration into tissue
- Spatially coherent
- Controlled-divergence beam : Unlike hot laser that have almost no divergence, cold lasers have use optics to diverge the beam by up to 30 percent. This allows cold lasers to push more energy into the direction that it is needed.
- Optically manipulated to maximize penetration.
Comparing LEDs and LASERs
So what is the difference between the light created by an LED and the light created by a LASER. The light from the LED is non-coherent and divergent. The divergence of the LED light wastes energy and may require special optics to focus the available energy into the desired areas. The second limitation, coherence, can not be corrected.
400 nM and Up
400 nM and Up
|Low - Divergence
||No, may require special optic to correct. Wastes energy.
||Yes, Perfect for targeting specific areas.
|Can Be Super-Pulsed||
|Yes, making them safer|
||No, Random destructive and constructive interference may produce random results
|Efficiency at delivering energy into the tissue||About 5%||About 90%|
The final answer is that both LEDs and LASERs can be used in cold lasers. Because of the basic properties of the LED, they are primarily use for superficial treatment. Although LEDs may have the correct wavelength, the controlled stimulation of deep tissues requires a coherent and focused beam of photons. The biggest problem is that LEDs are not efficient at getting the energy all going into the tissue. The efficiency (tissue energy/ output energy) is about 5% so you need a 15 to 20 watt LED to get the same tissue energy level as a 1-watt laser.
Also, LEDs can not be pulsed so they can not take advantage of using a higher power pulsed emitter which is both safe and powerfully (greater transmission distances). Because LEDs are just so cheap (often pennies a piece) , they are still widely used in cold lasers to target superficial areas. The combination of both LASERs and LEDs deliver photons to both the superficial and the deep tissue.