Sometimes, a trick gets pulled off better in nature than it does in a laboratory. That might be the case with new research claiming fireflies' unique lanterns can be reverse-engineered for LED lights, making the bulbs as much as 55 percent more efficient.
We've seen scientists get the idea to mimic the insect's chemical reaction, but this project deals with their also-impressive structure. This is how the researchers--a team from Belgium, France, and Canada--explained the process in a statement:
With help from scanning electron microscopes, the team took a deep look at the internal structure of fireflies from the genus Photuris and found scales on the cuticles in a "factory roof shape." (Think slanted shingles.) Computer simulations showed how those cuticles helped tone down the internal-reflection problem. There's something else, the researchers realized, that has the same problem: human-made lights.
So the team took a gallium nitride LED, added a coat of light-sensitive material, then used lasers to recreate the roof shape they saw in the fireflies. Voila, they report in two papers today, out in the journal Optics Express: an LED that is up to 55 percent better at its job.
The team admits it's not the first time nature-inspired techniques aped by humans have improved LEDs, but they also claim this is the biggest increase in efficiency ever gained with a technique like it. Next up: reverse-engineering a different species of firefly that might be even more efficient.
Now if only they could tell us how to reverse engineer congress to get them to do something???
Fireflies are TRUE magic in my childhood memories..... Happy sigh!
Force feed them a daily diet of Fireflies, so they all can be enlighten and find a solution and perhaps they will all develop magical powers too!
Na... forget it. I like Fireflies to much! ;)
...and he said, "Let there be a more efficient light!" This is awesome and just goes to show how much nature can teach us about technology.
So... I have to admit to being a bit skeptical. It sounds like they said, in a complicated way, "Fireflies' bodies aren't transparent, so they have angled cells to let the light out rather than keeping it all in." But lights already have transparent coverings. So what "55% increase" are they talking about? Diffusing? I'm dubious, until I see some more actual details.
Oh, and is this specific only to LEDs, or do other light types benefit as well?
Besides... the team is partly French... not sure how much I trust their logic. =P
Why they don't give evolutionary programs/genetic algorithms (www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genalg/genalg.html) a try?