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Highly Efficient Light-Emitting Diode Mimics Fireflies

130108112453Studying the structure of firefly lanterns, scientists from Belgium, France and Canada were able to identify a pattern of jagged scales that enhances the glow of the organs. They used this to create an LED overlayer, which increases the LED light extraction by up to 55%.

The study published in the latest issue of the Optics Express Journal, reports that the new energy-saving light technology can be easily tailored to existing diode designs.

Annick Bay, a  Ph.D. student at the University of Namur in Belgium is proud to present their work as a result of careful observation of nature. The idea was brought to Bay by her advisor, Jean Pol Vigneron, who observed the behavior of fireflies in Central America.

A chemical reaction that occurs in the specialized cells called photocytes is the reason for the creation of light by fireflies. It is then emitted through the insect’s exoskeleton, also known as cuticle, where it travels slowly. This causes the light to reflect back into the lantern, dimming the glow. However depending on the surface geometry of some cuticles, this can be minimized.

Small structures, called nanoscale ribs, and large, misfit scales, were found using scanning electron microscope. Computer simulations helped the researchers model the influence of these structures on the light transmission process

Considering that LED devices also experience internal reflection, the team was able to recreate the structures found in fireflies and increase the brightness of the LEDs.

The method of creating the jagged overlayer is fully described in a second paper, published in the journal. This part of the work was conducted by Nicolas André, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

The author states that the techniques is easy and effective, and requires only coating and creating laser patterns on existing LEDs.

Similar work has been conducted before, however research has only been focused on nanoscale features, making the findings of the current study unique. The team is convinced that in the next few years, this novel designed can be easily applied in manufacturing techniques for LED production.

Further work of the researchers is directed towards exploring various aspects of nature in a search for inspiration for more innovative ideas.

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About the author

Mila is a researcher and scientist with a great passion for soils, rocks, plants, water and all environment-related aspects of our surroundings. For the past 10 years, during the course of her educational and professional development, she travelled all over Europe, Africa and Asia, driven by her passion for the environment and urge to seek challenges.

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