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Biotech Science Technology

Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs 111

Zothecula writes "Fireflies have helped an international team of scientists get over 50 percent more light out of existing LED bulbs. It was discovered that in the Photuris genus of firefly, scales in the insect's exoskeleton possess optical qualities that boost the amount of bioluminescence that can shine through. Those same qualities were found to dramatically increase the light output of an LED bulb."
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Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs

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  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:21AM (#42543073) Homepage

    If I understand what was discovered in TFA (and press release noted by Trepidity), the etched scales reduce the internal reflections of the produced light which result in some of the produced light being lost in the structure of the LED and lens.

    Does anybody know how much light is actually lost within the LED and lens? The article mentions that the extrated light is increased by 55% which implies that at least a third of the light produced by an LED is lost within the structure - would this be correct?

    I would presume that this loss would be influenced by the shape of the LED lens - correct? I seem to remember that pin through hole LEDs are designed with the emitter at the focus of the curved lens to minimize reflected losses BUT this could be a huge advantage for SMT chip LEDs which tyically just have a flat surface for the lens.

    Are there other applications in which this can be used as I would think that this could be useful in other applications? I would guess that adding the triangular "roof" structure would make it difficult to focus/direct the light produced by the LED. This would mean that the typical power dispersion patter of a typical LED would be evened out and the light output would be difficult to focus - correct?


  • Re:HID's (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @02:31AM (#42543119) Journal

    That's a kind of bias we humans favor. Wouldn't it be better if we enhanced our night vision, instead of using brighter headlights and street lights? Or, don't drive at night, rather than try to banish darkness?

    Better to cure allergies to cats, rather than breed hypoallergenic cats? Cure allergies to cedar trees, rather than chop them all down? Go to bed when the sun sets, instead of using artificial lighting?

    But no. Our society is sacred. The world must change to suit us, not the other way around. Individuals must change to better fit society's requirements. Someday, perhaps we'll have a cure for sleep. No one will ever have to sleep again!

  • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @03:00AM (#42543241)

    It's basically a misleading headline.
    Sort of like an advertising campaign a few years back, which compared a mouthwash to 'brushing alone' - which when you went into the small print was comparing it against brushing with no toothpaste.

    The picture shows a bare die LED.
    LEDs are basically never used like this, they always have a silicone or epoxy cover, which better matches the refractive index of the led die, so more light gets out.

    Is this useful in some cases, perhaps, and may inspire some modifications. But the flat figure is misleading,
    50% of light is _not_ lost at the moment in most designs of led.

  • Re:HID's (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maow ( 620678 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @03:45AM (#42543393) Journal

    So thanks to fireflies I can have even brighter, more obnoxious headlights on my car.

    HIDs =/= LEDs.

    But yes, expect more insanely bright and poorly adjusted headlights on cars.

    I always thought that for most driving, done in urban areas, headlights were so the car could be seen, not to see with. That's what street lamps are for.

    Once away from street lamps (and oncoming traffic), then lights can and should be as bright as possible IMHO.

  • by CSMoran ( 1577071 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:24AM (#42543537) Journal

    Evolution is hardly simple compared to (to use the popular atheist pejorative) "goddidit".

    "Goddidit" in isolation is simple. But then accounting for all the mental hoops one needs to take to create a semi-reasonable model with an omnipotent creator being, it becomes progressively more complex.

    Fortunately, Occam's Razor doesn't, and never did, say the slightest thing about what is true, rather only what is pragmatic for use when presented with otherwise-equivalent models.

    Of course. When presented with a choice between "this simple process did it", "an unseen creator did it, then put a lot of hints to the contrary in the ground" and more intricate theories like "the Teapot made the creator do that", it's pragmatic to choose the first one. I'm willing to change my mind when evidence that disproves evolution or evidence for intelligent creator or evidence for Teapot surfaces.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta