Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pesky Insect Inspires Practical Technology

11.09.2014

Inspired by the Compound Eyes of Common Fly, Penn State Researchers Determine How to Make Miniature Omnidirectional Sources of Light and Optical Sensors

 In our vain human struggle to kill flies, our hands and swatters often come up lacking. This is due to no fault of our own, but rather to flies’ compound eyes. Arranged in a hexagonal, convex pattern, compound eyes consist of hundreds of optical units called ommatidia, which together bestow upon flies a nearly 360-degree field of vision. With this capability in mind, a team of researchers at Pennsylvania State University is drawing on this structure to create miniature light-emitting devices and optical sensors.


D.P. Pulsifer/PSU

The position and structure at the micron- and nano-scales of the compound eyes of flies provide them a wide angular field of view

“We were inspired by those eyes,” said Raúl J. Martín-Palma, an adjunct professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. “We said, ‘OK, we can make something artificial using the same replicating structure to emit light in all directions, rather than what we have now, which is just planar, light-emitting diodes.’” Martín-Palma has been involved in work with ‘bioinspiration,’ in which ideas and concepts from nature are implemented in different fields of science and engineering, for the past seven years. He and fellow researchers describe their work in the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing.

Theoretical analysis of the compound eyes’ optical properties was complicated by the ommaditias’ nanonipples, 200-nanometer, tapered projections whose minute size make simulated calculations nearly impossible, due to its unpredictable scattering of light.

... more about:
»AIP »coating »diodes »emit »flies »physics »structure

“It is much easier to just go ahead and fabricate the actual device and see what happens,” Martín-Palma said. So they did.

To test the structure’s light-scattering properties, the researchers extracted corneas from blow flies and coated them with a 900-nm-thick layer of tris(8-hydroxyquinolinato)aluminum, a well-known fluorescent polymer. They then induced the modified surface to emit visible light by exposing it to diffuse ultraviolet light.

When compared to a similarly coated flat surface, the modified ommatidia demonstrated a lesser angular dependence of emission, meaning that they tended to scatter light more uniformly in all directions.

“By coating the eyes, we were able to have a better light emission, or a better angular distribution of light emission,” Martín-Palma said.

This increased emission and angular distribution means that the pattern of the fly’s cornea could soon be adapted into extremely minute light-emitting diodes and detectors, which would be able to process light output and input from a staggeringly wide field of vision.

While the corneas used in the experiment were taken from fruit flies, Martín-Palma and his colleagues do not advocate the mass harvesting of flies to create light sources.

“We have already developed a technique to mass-replicate biotemplates at the nanoscale, including compound eyes of insects,” Martín-Palma said. “So now when we want to make 100 bioreplicated eyes, we don’t have to kill 50 flies. We can make multiple copies out of one template.”

The next step in Martín-Palma’s research is to expand the coating procedure to include other species’ compound eyes, in order to identify the optimal structure for omni-directional light emission. Future work also includes fabricating a light-emitting diode in the shape of a compound eye, and ultimately creating omni-directional light detectors.

The article, "Angular distribution of light emission from compound-eye cornea with conformant fluorescent coating," is authored by Raúl J. Martín-Palma, Amy E. Miller, Drew P. Pulsifer, and Aklesh Lakhtakia. It will appear in the journal Applied Physics Letters on September 9, 2014. After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/apl/105/10/10.1063/1.4895114

ABOUT THE JOURNAL
Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See: http://apl.aip.org

Contact Information

Jason Socrates Bardi
+1 240-535-4954
jbardi@aip.org
@jasonbardi

Jason Socrates Bardi | newswise

Further reports about: AIP coating diodes emit flies physics structure

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>