Salmon sperm may be the new wonder material for the creation of bioLEDs according to a Cincinnati University researcher, in work funded by the US Air Force.
Professor Andrew Steckl, an expert in light-emitting diodes, believes biological materials such as DNA can intensify the properties of LEDs.
‘DNA has certain optical properties that make it unique,’ said Steckl. ‘It allows improvements by one to two orders of magnitude in terms of efficiency, light and brightness -because we can trap electrons longer.’
Steckl’s devices use thin films of DNA as electron blocking layers, replacing the conventional inorganic materials such as silicon. With more electrons blocked, more photons can be created and the LEDs will be brighter.
He also says using DNA will reduce cost, to the producer, consumer and environment.
‘Biological materials have many technologically important qualities – electronic, optical, structural, magnetic,’ added Steckl. ‘But certain materials are hard to duplicate, such as DNA and proteins. Salmon sperm is considered a waste product of the fishing industry. It’s thrown away by the ton. It’s natural, renewable and perfectly biodegradable.’
The long-term goal is to create ‘green’ devices that use only natural, renewable and biodegradable materials and to do this biomaterials are being considered to replace other materials in LEDs.