The use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to support plant growth is a radical departure from use of gas-discharge lamps, which were developed in mid-19th and widely adopted by the industry during the 20th century. 

Initial investigation by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the late 1980s on the use of LEDs to grow plants in space is resulting in an industry-wide transition from gas discharge to solid-state lighting systems. This global transformation is given urgency by national policies to reduce energy consumption and being facilitated by ready access to information on LEDs. The combination of research, government policy, and information technology has resulted in an exponential increase in research into the use and application of LED technology in horticulture.

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