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Firefly LEDs

January 23, 2013

Fireflies are inspiring the design of more efficient LED lights.



LEDs from nature.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Engineers often turn to nature for inspiration. That’s because evolution has had millions of years to come up with structures we might never think of.  This according to Jean Pol Vigneron of the University of Namur in Belgium.

JEAN POL VIGNERON (University of Namur in Belgium):

Instead of trying to design from imagination, we look at nature first and then we try to exploit the experience we find there to find a solution.


Recently, Vigneron and his colleagues found that fireflies have scales on their abdomens that let them shine extremely brightly. The researchers studied the structure of the scales and then designed LEDs with a textured coating that mimics the firefly design.  The result? LEDs that were 50%more efficient than those now in use. If the development makes them more efficient and economical, we’ll have lightning bugs to thank. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Fireflies emit bioluminescent light to attract mates. (Quit007/Wikipedia)