In another fantastic example of biomimicry, a team of South Korean scientists is studying fireflies in an effort to develop a better, less expensive LED lens. The team’s research sees them essentially mimicking the insect’s bioluminescent organ for lighting applications. It is hoped that by studying and duplicating the structure of a firefly’s underbelly, the team will be able to produce more efficient and cheaper LED lighting.

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The team’s research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where the researchers described their better anti-reflective lens for light-emitting diodes (LED) in their paper, “Biologically inspired LED lens from cuticular nanostructures of firefly.” In it, they described how fireflies use their bioluminescent organ to attract a mate.

During their studies, they discovered that the firefly’s lantern is made up of multiple layers. Using a scanning electron microscope and numerical analysis, they revealed that “the highly ordered structure reduces optical impedance between air and the cuticle, acting as an anti-reflective layer that cuts the loss of light and raises efficiency.”

With this knowledge, they were able to create an artificial version for use as a high-power LED lens. “The nanostructures on an LED lens surface were fabricated by using a large-area nanotemplating and reconfigurable nanomolding with heat-induced shear thinning,” the team wrote. “The biologically inspired LED lens, distinct from a smooth surface lens, substantially increases light transmission over visible ranges, comparable to conventional antireflection coating. This biological inspiration can offer new opportunities for increasing the light extraction efficiency of high-power LED packages.”

+ Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences


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