Measured Against Reality

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coming to an LED near you: Salmon Sperm

Every now and then something lands in my RSS reader that's just too crazy to believe: salmon sperm being used to make brighter LEDs. You read that right, salmon sperm make LEDs better.

Professor Andrew Steckl of the University of Cincinnati has made this fascinating discovery. The way that it works is that the DNA holds the electrons up better than synthetic materials (such as silicon), and the slower the electrons move through the diode, the more light is released (this is because there are more collisions along the route, and those collisions are how the light is released).

According to Prof Steckl, the salmon DNA, "allows improvements in one to two orders of magnitude in terms of efficiency, light, brightness — because we can trap electrons longer." For those not familiar with "order of magnitude" terminology, he's claiming 10 to 100 time increases in brightness. LEDs are already really bright, even 10 times brighter would be incredible.

And it's all thanks to a renewable, biogedradable material: salmon sperm.

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