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The lumen (symbolized lm) is the International Unit of luminous flux. It is defined in terms of candela steradians (cd multiplied by sr). One lumen is the amount of light emitted in a solid angle of 1 sr, from a source that radiates to an equal extent in all directions, and whose intensity is 1 cd.

One lumen is the equivalent of 1.46 milliwatt (1.46 x 10-3 W) of radiant electromagnetic (EM) power at a frequency of 540 terahertz (540 THz or 5.40 x 1014 Hz). Reduced to SI base units, one lumen is equal to 0.00146 kilogram meter squared per second cubed (1.46 x 10-3 kg multiplied by m2 / s3).

The lumen is a small unit. An electromagnetic field power level of 1.46 milliwatt is small; the radio-frequency (RF) output of a children's toy two-way radio is several times that much. A frequency of 540 THz corresponds to a wavelength of about 556 nanometers (nm), which is in the middle of the visible-light spectrum. A steradian is the standard unit solid angle in three dimensions; a sphere encloses 4 pi (approximately 12.57) steradians.

Also see candela, steradian, and International System of Units (SI).

This was last updated in September 2005

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