By Evan Ackerman
I have to admit that sperm is only the second thing that leaps to mind when I think about LEDs. Not so for Professor Andrew Steckl, an expert in light-emitting diode technology from the University of Cincinnati. It turns out that you can enhance LEDs by using biological membranes to slow down electrons, getting them to emit more photons:
“DNA has certain optical properties that make it unique. It allows improvements in one to two orders of magnitude in terms of efficiency, light, brightness â€” because we can trap electrons longer. Some of the electrons rushing by have a chance to say â€˜hello,â€™ and get that photon out before they pass out. The more electrons we can keep around, the more photons we can generate. DNA serves as a barrier that affects the motion of the electrons.”
So, where can you get a whole bunch of DNA for cheap? Two words: salmon sperm. â€œSalmon sperm is considered a waste product of the fishing industry. Itâ€™s thrown away by the ton. Itâ€™s natural, renewable and perfectly biodegradable.â€ Any sort of DNA will potentially work just as well, but I’m not even going to touch that one. â€œIâ€™m receiving salmon sperm from researchers around the world wanting to see if their sperm is good enough,â€ says Professor Andrew Steckl. Um, good luck with that.