No, that glowing pickle isn't a promotion for rave night at Katz's, it's a demonstration for how your TV works. In this ingenious twist on the classic potato clock, MIT professor Vladimir Bulovic transforms a humble full sour into a giant OLED pixel for our learning pleasure.
OLEDs are nothing more than an electrically active organic material sandwiched between an anode (a electron-expelling electrode) and a cathode (an electron-receiving electrode). When an electric current runs through the system, the anode sends electrons to the cathode, creating a current through the organic material. This charges the organic material, and when positive and negative charges hit the same molecule, it releases a photon, which we perceive as glowing.
In this case, the acidic pickle is the electrically charged organic material. By running a current through it, the pickle transforms into a giant pixel, or single light source. Bulovic could arrange millions of pickles into a grid, add some color filters, and build himself a giant kosher flat-screen TV.
Naturally, the actual OLED pixels used in televisions are far smaller and more efficient than the luminescent cucumber in the video. However, they are much less tasty.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.