Whiteness perception under LED illumination

Kevin W. Houser, Minchen Wei, Aurélien David, Michael R. Krames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Visual perception of many manufactured white objects is driven by the concentration of fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) that they contain. FWAs serve to increase overall whiteness perception by enhancing luminance and providing a chromatic blue shift. White objects with FWAs have been engineered for many decades to interact with conventional illuminants such as daylight and incandescent light in order to provide desirable whiteness perception. Whiteness perception has not previously been investigated under light emitting diodes (LEDs). In this study, three psychophysical experiments-forced choice, selection, and sorting-were conducted to investigate the whiteness perception of a series of whiteness standards containing predetermined amounts of FWAs, illuminated by five sources: a typical blue-pumped LED (BLED), a filtered halogen lamp, and violet-pumped LEDs with three violet emission levels. Thirty-nine participants with normal color vision completed the experiments. Results from the sorting experiment can be explained by FWA excitation: the BLED induced no fluorescence and standards could not be ordered properly, whereas for other sources the perceived whiteness increased with the amount of FWAs. Results from the other two experiments can be explained by FWA excitation together with shifts in source chromaticity. Overall, all results are compatible with the known trend for blue shifts to induce whiteness perception. Adaptations of the CIE whiteness formula are also shown to agree well with the experimental results. The results indicate that engineering of an LED source's spectrum is necessary for an accurate rendering of whiteness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalLEUKOS - Journal of Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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