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Biotech Science

Researchers Use Salmon DNA To Make LED Lightbulbs 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the bright-ideas-that-smell-fishy dept.
Al writes "Researchers from the University of Connecticut have created a new light-emitting material by doping spun strands of salmon DNA with fluorescent dyes. The material, which is robust because DNA is such a strong polymer, absorbs energy from ultraviolet light and gives off different colors depending on the amounts of dye it contains. A team led by chemistry professor Gregory Sotzing created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter. The color-tunable DNA material relies on an energy-transfer mechanism between two different fluorescent dyes, and the DNA keeps the dye molecules separated at a distance of 2 to 10 nanometers from each other."
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Researchers Use Salmon DNA To Make LED Lightbulbs

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  • by iamapizza (1312801) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:50PM (#28783607)
    What bass voltage did he have to apply to get it to work?
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:52PM (#28783631)

    Energy efficient, yet stinky... I *like* it!

  • Considering this is almost exactly how a flourescent bulb works (UV->flourescence->light) I wonder if this is actually cheaper, longer lasting or more efficent in some way, or just a neat bit of science with no future in terms of practical application.
    • Well, if we can skip the mercury component, it might be significantly more environmentally friendly.

    • by josteos (455905)

      Since we already have white LED's, I'd guess the real benefit is the ability to easily fine-tune the colors by adjusting the coating.

      • by thedonger (1317951) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:40PM (#28784443)

        Since we already have white LED's, I'd guess the real benefit is the ability to give PETA something else about which they can complain..

        There. Fixed that for you.

      • by samkass (174571)

        "White" LEDs today use phosphors just like this one does, but the phosphors are inefficient. That's why white LEDs aren't the 10x gain in efficiency over CFBs you'd expect from LEDs. The problem with non-phosphorescent white LED lights is that green LEDs are extremely hard to make, and without them you can't combine a red-green-blue triplet to get something approximating white light. Even then the energy bands would be very narrow and some colors may look very strange under it.

        Anyway, this is basically a

    • I wonder if this is actually cheaper, longer lasting or more efficent in some way, or just a neat bit of science with no future in terms of practical application.

      I wonder if the article mentions anything like that...

      The light emitters should also be longer-lasting because DNA is a very strong polymer, Sotzing says. "It's well beyond other polymers [in strength]," he notes, adding that it lasts 50 times longer than acrylic.

      ...

      "It's really very cool [work], and I think that it has practical promise," says Aaron Clapp, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Iowa State University. "[But] it seems like an overly dramatic way of doing it."

      Drat! Nothing!

      I

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ballpoint (192660)
      The smell also needs to be compared. A flourescent bulb smells like wheat, a florescent bulb like roses, while this smells like fish.
  • by bdrees (1015815)
    Thats one bright fish.... Seriously, Why did we give some research team money for this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by click2005 (921437)

      It was to cover up the fact that the faculty spent $400k at last year's xmas party on caviar.

  • Who wants to be the guy who spends all day "collecting salmon DNA"?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A5EVTXDDcU [youtube.com]

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:55PM (#28783677) Journal
    I don't see what is so extra-special about salmon DNA. Why not housefly DNA? Bog knows there's several orders of magnitude more of those little buggers than salmon. Much of the wild salmon stock has dropped, and the salmon farms aren't helping matters. You would think if they needed DNA, they could get it in bulk from termites or ants or flies or algae or crabgrass...

    rs

    • by ikefox (1566973)
      I was wondering the same thing. Since they are using the DNA for its physical properties, and not its chemical "code", why salmon DNA?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dfornika (1544099)
        It was most likely Salmon Sperm DNA, which is a common molecular biology reagent. If you've ever handled a spawning salmon, you know that the slightest squeeze will yield a lot of genetic material.
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:29PM (#28784271)

      Or bacteria, which will give you orders of magnitude more DNA overnight than a week of fly collecting, and which are much easier to purify DNA from.

      This article [optics.org] also talks about using salmon DNA for lights. They had a good source:

      Steckl and colleagues used DNA from Japan. "Salmon fishing is a very large industry in Hokkaido, Japan, some 200 000 tons per year," explained Steckl. "While the meat and eggs are edible, the male roe is normally a waste product but it is very rich in DNA."

      That doesn't seem to be the same lab, and that article predates the technology review one. Maybe the Sotzing lab (featured in the technology review article) read the publications by Steckl lab (optics.org article) who used salmon DNA and decided to just use salmon DNA as they did to hurry up and publish rather than spend time seeing if salmon DNA was the only one which would do it.

      Of course, it could also have been that the Steckl lab got wind of the Sotzing lab's use of salmon DNA and just beat them to the punch. And these aren't the actual publications from either lab, so it really could be anything, they could have even collaborated. Either way, it seems like they just haven't tested other DNA, the optics.org article quotes Steckl as saying they might try other DNA.

    • by JimboFBX (1097277)
      Isn't it obvious? Salmon DNA is cheap and easy to get! Just take any fish, cut it open, rip out the testicles, then squeeze them. Bam! Instant DNA with no waste to anything, and boy do you get a lot!
    • It's a common reagent in molecular biology labs, so it's probably just that they had some handy and could buy more, ready-purified, very cheaply.

      The reason it's so common in labs is that it's extracted from salmon sperm, which is produced in colossal quantity at salmon farms, and the excess sold to scientists. Extracting DNA from sperm is much easier than, say, grinding up a whole fly. Once you've decided that you're after sperm, fish pump their sperm out into the water anyway so you don't need to "milk"
    • Wouldn't electric eel DNA work better?
    • by Guppy (12314)

      You can get DNA out of most living tissues*, but the key factor here is cost and purity. A large part of the sperm cell is a mass of tightly-packed DNA, and compared with other tissues you have less protein, RNA, and other junk that needs to be separated out. And as previous repliers to this thread have mentioned, Salmon Sperm is cheap to obtain in large quantities.

      *: Note: Not all. For instance, mammalian red blood cells have neither a nucleus or mitochondria, so no DNA. The DNA in a blood sample comes

  • Meh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:57PM (#28783701)

    ... created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter.

    I did this by accident once, while trying to make breakfast.

    • ... created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter.

      I did this by accident once, while trying to make breakfast.

      Haha, yeah. That exact quote just got me thinking:

      Jesus Christ, science is insane.

      -Taylor

    • by mrgiles (872216)
      Gross. I am never eating breakfast at your place.
  • by davegravy (1019182) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @12:57PM (#28783705)

    I'm taking bets:

    LED Salmon vs Laser Shark

    • by Dannon (142147)

      Are they ill-tempered?

    • by Jared555 (874152)

      Well.... A Laser LED Salmon could cut it's way out of the Laser Shark if swallowed.... But of course you have to assume that the teeth were avoided..... So many variables

  • Stop playing with your food!

  • We're just scaling back the whole "sharks with lasers" project to something less dangerous. We've learned our lesson, really!

  • How many salmon does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

  • It was so obvious! How Could I not have seen this before!

    this should not be patentable.

  • So will this make my local salmon festival start looking like Xmas?

  • a fishful of dollars (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drkoemans (666135)
    this reminds me of that futurama episode where anchovy oil is the ultimate robot lubricant and extremely valuable after they have been fished to extinction. art imitates life yet again.
  • The color-tunable DNA material

    Ugh...

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      I guess this puts rest to the old theory that you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.

  • luminosity? cost? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @01:57PM (#28784733)

    Is there a drop in luminosity compared to other leds? I mean this is really cool but if it isn't going to be as bright as any other process to make LEDs it's almost moot. Especially if it costs a lot more to make.

  • Also, DNA is degraded by UV, so unless this is at a specific wavelength of UV that doesn't interact with the DNA molecule itself this definitely won't be longer lasting.

  • by clovis (4684) * on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:08PM (#28784921)

    My wife had been bugging me to throw out all those salmon I'd been keeping in the garage. "Whatever are you going to use them for?" she wanted to know. I'll show her this and then we'll know who's the clever one!

    • You should have told her:

      "What would I use salmon for!? What do you think!? I'm going to mix salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pump the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it will dry and form long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. I will then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter. DUH!"

      -Tayl

      • by clovis (4684) *

        I lie awake going over and over in my head what I _should_ have said, and that was it!
        Thanks man! I'm gonna use this next time.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:45PM (#28785481) Journal

    We'll eat your eggs by the spoonful, with Vodka. And your very DNA will be used as a fluorescent dye.

    (I admit, I stole the idea for the joke from Louis CK. [funnyordie.com] Genius comedian, that guy.)

    • We'll eat your eggs by the spoonful, with Vodka. And your very DNA will be used as a fluorescent dye.

      (I admit, I stole the idea for the joke from Louis CK. [funnyordie.com] Genius comedian, that guy.)

      Haha, I recognized that right away! I love Lois CK. ..barrel of duck vaginas... heh.
      -Taylor

  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:51PM (#28786501) Journal

    several posters have asked why salmon dna - ifyou look in a std catalog (say www.sial.com) you will see that fish dna is much cheaper then bacterial (e coli)
    this is cause each sperm cell has ~~1,000 times more dna then a bacterial cell, and sperm are easy to collect (hold the jokes) and easy to get dna out of - basically, you just put the sperm in a solution of detergent, and the dna pops out.

    but dna is pretty $$ (retail price of 48 dollars a gram in 10 gram lots at sial.com), it degrades in the environment, and typically, the organic dyes that bind to dna have greatly reduced stability compared to inorganic phosphors

    sounds like more ivory tower nonsense that will never lead to reasonably priced, cheap product

  • Don't believe me? Shine UV light on motel sheets.

  • TFA reports:

    The light emitters should also be longer-lasting because DNA is a very strong polymer, Sotzing says. "It's well beyond other polymers [in strength]," he notes, adding that it lasts 50 times longer than acrylic.

    Strength as a material property has no time dimension. What material property is Mr. Patel referring to in his paraphrase of Sotzing?

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