Experts at Manchester University are trying to put the tiny lights on to lamp posts because their better reliability would boost road safety, help cut vehicle crime and reduce taxpayers' bills. LED set-ups have been proven to use less than half the electricity of conventional lamps and last four times as long.
"When you consider how many street lights there are in the UK alone, it's clear that we are faced with some opportunities for making big savings both in terms of energy and costs," explained the university's Dr Roger Shuttleworth.
At the moment, the boffins are trying to solve an overheating problem with the set-up. Clusters of small, street-bright LEDs can get so hot that they melt their plastic casings. Environmentalists have warned that this can become even more of an issue when birds nest on top of lamp posts, so the scientists are having to come up with a cool solution.
Dutch electronics giant Philips has experimented with LED street lamps in the Netherlands, and the technology is used to illuminate the road bridge across the Bosphorus in Turkey.
Philips has also revealed plans to develop new 'intelligent' LED street lights which are controlled by sensors. These effectively switch themselves on automatically when dusk falls and when they detect the vibrations of approaching cars.