When scientists developed an efficient device for emitting light, they hadn't realised butterflies have been using the same method for 30 million years. Flourescent patches on the wings of African swallowtail butterflies work in a very similar way to high emission light emitting diodes (LEDs). These high emission LEDs are an efficient variation on the diodes used in electronic equipment and displays. The University of Exeter, UK, research appears in the journal Science. In 2001, Alexei Erchak and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated a method for building a more efficient LED. Most light emitted from standard LEDs cannot escape, resulting in what scientists call a low extraction efficiency of light.
Dr Vukusic agreed that studying natural designs such as this could help scientists improve upon manmade devices. "When you study these things and get a feel for the photonic architecture available, you really start to appreciate the elegance with which nature put some of these things together," he said.
I love stuff like this. I promise there will be real blog entries again soon, not just news quotes. The novel is at 44,000 words with a weekend ahead, and the story is wrapping up. One tiger sock will get finished in the next few days, and I'm on the final pattern repeat of the Faina scarf, so there will be FOs soon. Also a picture of my koigu, and a picture of the Socks That Rock yarn I'll be getting for finishing the novel (help me choose which one!). Bear with me through the last few thousand words.