Bright Idea


Fireflies have helped make LEDs brighter. Scientists have taken cue from the insects to make the light-emitting diodes up to 55 per cent more efficient. The jagged design of the scales on a firefly’s lantern, the organ that flashes to attract mates, maximises the light output by minimising the amount of light that gets reflected inside the insect’s body.

When a similar five micrometres high saw-tooth pattern was created on the coatings of an LED bulb using a laser, the bulb showed very low internal reflection and was able to emit several times more light than it normally does, using the same amount of energy.


Down to Earth, January 2013