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.
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.”
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