GE SSL-5A - Gallium Arsenide Infrared LED

Although GE is well known as being inventor of the first visible light emitting diodes, this work was preceded by developments with infrared emitters. The first infrared LED, known as the SNX-100, employed a pure GaAs crystal to emit a 900nm output and was created earlier in 1962 by Gary Pittman and Rober Biard at Texas Instruments. In the same year Nick Holonyak at GE achieved the first visible LED by working with gallium arsenide-phosphide materials, which reduced the wavelength sufficiently to achieve red light.

The mid 1960s then witnessed a great diversification of products as GE's LED range grew. Soon joining the original red emitters were the SSL-1 and SSL-6 devices based on Silicon carbide, emitting a tiny amount of yellow coloured light. GE next entered the infrared market with its SSL-4, a pure GaAs device similar to that of Texas Instruments.

Pure GaAs has the advantage of an extremely rapid rise and decay time on switching, around 50ns, which permits high frequency signalling at speeds of up to around 100MHz. However the infrared output is very low. GE improved on this by adding silicon atoms, which shifts the wavelength to around 940nm and increases output power tremendously. That material was first employed in this SSL-5A LED. However it does increase the rise and decay time to several hundred nanoseconds, such that switching frequencies of 1MHz are the limit and it is not suitable for all applications.

The construction of this LED is similar to others of its era : a gold plated kovar transisor header to which the chip is bonded. Owing to the absorption of infrared wavelengths by many traditional plastic encapsulants, a glass lens is used.
Manufacturer: GE Miniature Lamp Dept.
Lamp Voltage: 1.35V
Lamp Current: 100mA Nominal 500mA Maximum
Lamp Power: 135mW Nominal 1300mW Maximum
Cap Type: Insulated Au plated wires Ø 0.0175" x 0.1" Pitch
Bulb Type: TO-18 transistor
Bulb Finish: Glass lens
Die Chemistry: GaAs Si doped
Radiant Power: 1.5mW
Radiant Efficiency: 1.1%
Peak Intensity: N/A
Beam Distribution: 15° to half-peak
Peak Wavelength: 940nm
Colour Temperature & CRI: CCT: N/A CRI: N/A
Chromaticity Co-ordinates: CCx: N/A CCy: N/A
Junction Temperature:
Rated Lifetime:
Overall Length: 0.260 inches
Light Centre Length:
Factory: Nela Park Cleveland, USA
Date of Manufacture: Circa 1970
Original / Present Value:
References: 1) GE Solid-State Lamps Catalog 3-3358, November 1973
2) GE Solid-State Lamps Manual Part 1 - Theory and Characteristics, 3-8270R, May 1972
3) GE Solid-State Lamps Manual Part 2 - Applications, 3-0121, Nov 1971
4) Smithsonian Institution - Inventors