Scientists Made LEDs 60 Percent Brighter By Copying Firefly Lanterns

A team of researchers has managed to boost the amount of light an LED emits by 60 percent simply by shaping its outer surface to resemble the outside of a firefly’s lantern.


Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology have created the new organic LED by creating a nano-structured lens that sits on top of the surface of an otherwise normal LED. The researchers discovered that the outside of a firefly’s lantern features a fine surface of tiles, which reduces the difference between the refractive index of its body and the surrounding air. In turn, that allows more light to be emitted.

The team simply mimicked the tiled structure at the nanoscale using a polymer resin that sits on top of the regular light-emitting surface. In a series of experiments, the team found that the green LED they developed was 60 percent brighter than a regular device when supplied with the same power. The results are published in Nano Letters.

The team reckons that LEDs made using this technique could be used in displays to provide the same level of brightness as regular screens while requiring less power.

[Nano Letters via Chemical & Engineering News]

Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.


Suddenly LED’s for lamps in the home is an interesting prospect. I’ve been looking for something which is more like the equivalent of a 100W+ bulb. I’m not going to put 40W or 60W equivalents all over the house, no matter how long they last, or how much the price has dropped.