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 New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University

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: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>