Fireflies provide flash of inspiration for cheaper LED lamps

HONG KONG Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:49am IST

Specimens of different species of fireflies are displayed at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) in Kuala Lumpur July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad/Files

Specimens of different species of fireflies are displayed at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) in Kuala Lumpur July 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad/Files

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - South Korean scientists have copied the structure of a firefly's underbelly to create what they say is an improved and cheaper LED lens that they hope will one day be used in smartphones, televisions and other devices.

In a paper published on Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the scientists described how they were inspired by the firefly, a bright and efficient source of natural light.

"We made a new LED lens (copying) the nanostructure of the firefly lantern," said lead author Ki-Hun Jeong, associate professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science of Technology's department of bio and brain engineering.

By copying the structure of the firefly's three-layered lower abdomen, Jeong and colleagues managed to do away with an expensive component in existing LED (light-emitting diode) lamps.

Fireflies produce light from the lower abdomen to attract mates and prey.

"By having this structure, it is comparable to the conventional anti-reflection coating of existing LED lights which is very expensive," Jeong said.

"Our lens has a curvature, which is very similar to the anti-reflection coating, so we can minimise the lens price."

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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