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By mimicking the jagged structure of a lightning bug’s “lantern” in a layer on top of existing LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, a team of researchers in Belgium, France, and Canada increased the amount of light from the semiconductor device by up to 55 percent.
“One advantage of [our] technique is that it can be coated on nearly every commercially available LED,” says Bay.
The authors examined the microscopic structure of the abdomen of a firefly found in Panama and discovered that the insect’s exoskeleton in this region of the body had jagged, misfit scales. Computer simulations and bench experiments confirmed that the sharp edges of these scales let out more light, the team reported in Optics Express.