Sunday, June 3, 2007

31. Light/Artificial light

(sunlight, chemicals, oil (whale or abiotic), tallow, electricity/blubs, fire, phosphorescence)


Mark said...

Accidental Invention Points to End of Light Bulbs
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 21 October 2005
03:21 pm ET

The main light source of the future will almost surely not be a bulb. It might be a table, a wall, or even a fork.

An accidental discovery announced this week has taken LED lighting to a new level, suggesting it could soon offer a cheaper, longer-lasting alternative to the traditional light bulb. The miniature breakthrough adds to a growing trend that is likely to eventually make Thomas Edison's bright invention obsolete.

LEDs are already used in traffic lights, flashlights, and architectural lighting. They are flexible and operate less expensively than traditional lighting.

Happy accident

Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, was just trying to make really small quantum dots, which are crystals generally only a few nanometers big. That's less than 1/1000th the width of a human hair.

Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons. They're easily excited bundles of energy, and the smaller they are, the more excited they get. Each dot in Bower's particular batch was exceptionally small, containing only 33 or 34 pairs of atoms.

When you shine a light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them, they react by producing their own light, normally a bright, vibrant color. But when Bowers shined a laser on his batch of dots, something unexpected happened.

"I was surprised when a white glow covered the table," Bowers said. "The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow."

Then Bowers and another student got the idea to stir the dots into polyurethane and coat a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb wasn't pretty, but it produced white light similar to a regular light bulb.

White light from Bowers' lumpy new bulb.
Credit: Vanderbilt University

The new device gives off a warm, yellowish-white light that shines twice as bright and lasts 50 times longer than the standard 60 watt light bulb.

This work is published online in the Oct. 18 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Better than bulbs

Until the last decade, LEDs could only produce green, red, and yellow light, which limited their use. Then came blue LEDs, which have since been altered to emit white light with a light-blue hue.

LEDs produce twice as much light as a regular 60 watt bulb and burn for over 50,000 hours. The Department of Energy estimates LED lighting could reduce U.S. energy consumption for lighting by 29 percent by 2025. LEDs don't emit much heat, so they're also more energy efficient. And they're much harder to break.

Other scientists have said they expect LEDs to eventually replace standard incandescent bulbs as well as fluorescent and sodium vapor lights.

If the new process can be developed into commercial production, light won't come just from newfangled bulbs. Quantum dot mixtures could be painted on just about anything and electrically excited to produce a rainbow of colors, including white.

One big question remains: When a brilliant idea pops into your mind in the future, what will appear over your head?

* Room Lights May Boost Health
* New Room Lighting: Bringing a Little Sunshine into Our Lives
* Advanced Optics ... on Butterfly Wings
* Scientists Mess with the Speed of Light
* Image Gallery: Micromachines

Tiny quantum dots in a glass tube produce white light when stimulated by an ultraviolet laser beam. The purple is from the laser, the white is the newly discovered emission. Credit: Daniel Dubois

Click to View

Mark said...

Disappearing Act

Optical Camouflage, Tachi Laboratory, University of Tokyo
While there has been a recent surge in interest about new materials for architecture and design - a new materialism, if you will - it is easy to overlook a fundamental counter-trend, which is that materials are slowly... disappearing. I'm not referring to some science fiction fantasy (e.g., "Invasion of the Material Snatchers"), but rather the fundamental and consistent technological trends leading to increased strength-to-weight ratios and light-transmittance. This tendency towards dematerialization is rooted in the natural trajectory of technology itself, which wants to maximize efficiency, miniaturize, and do more with less, coupled with an intriguing socio-environmental phenomenon concerning increased transparency in the physical environment. This 'de-solidification' has perhaps as much to do with a public desire for increased access and accountability as perceived from the outside of commercial and institutional structures, as much as the desire for increased access to light and views from the inside of structures. As a result, the frontiers of material development are defined significantly by high-performance, exotic materials and composites that shatter previous paradigms about solidity and opacity. Moreover, because these materials typically stretch resources farther than conventional substitutes, this development is encouraged in light of increased environmental concerns.

Windows into Walls
Nanogel, Cabot Corporation
There has been a fair amount of buzz in recent years surrounding aerogel, the NASA-developed, translucent insulating material which is the lightest human-made substance known. However, there is less knowledge about the extent to which this material will alter our preconceptions about solidity in architecture via its application in the product Nanogel. Developed by Cabot Corporation, Nanogel is a pelletized, nanoporous material that delivers unsurpassed thermal insulation and light transmission. Comprised by quartz particles mixed with 99% air, feather-light Nanogel weighs only 90 grams per liter. Compared with other insulation materials, Nanogel provides a superior combination of thermal and sound insulation as well as light transmission and diffusion characteristics – just half an inch of the material provides 73% light transmission with a solar heat gain coefficient of U = 0.25. What this means is that the relationship between the historically solid, insulating wall and the light-transmitting, thermally-conductive window has forever changed. Now walls can be windows and vice-versa, and the age-old battle between light vs. thermal protection is rendered moot.

When Concrete Becomes Something Else
Pixel Panels, Bill Price
Old notions about solidity are further shattered in new forms of concrete that transmit light – an idea that seemed the stuff of sci-fi novels until the new millennium brought us at least two such examples from different parts of the globe. Since his days working as an architect and materials researcher at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, Houston-based Bill Price has been on a quest to make concrete a light-transmissive medium. His Pixel Panels are comprised by a uniform array of acrylic rods set within a concrete binder, thus providing translucency at a given viewing distance. Bill has performed many modifications on the recipe, varying the ratio of concrete-to-polymer to allow for limitless variations, and achieving as much as 25% light-transmittance.

LitraCube, Áron Losonczi
Bill's contemporary Áron Losonczi has likewise developed a light-transmitting concrete, called Litracon, in his Hungary-based studio. Unlike Pixel Panels, Litracon utilizes thousands of fine fiber optic strands to carry light, which results in a high resolution of detail. Litracon is also manufactured in solid, brick-sized building blocks, whereas Pixel Panels are manufactured in thinner sheets. Given the expense of Losonczi 's material, he has cleverly designed new, small-scale products using Litracon, such as the LitraCube lamp. Although the concrete used in Pixel Panels and Litracon is similar to that which has been used for decades in conventional building construction, in a demonstration of the paradigm-shifting nature of these products, one of my colleagues asked, "But is it still concrete?"

Superstrong Windows
Transparent Ceramics, Fraunhofer Institute
Star Trek fans will remember the far-fetched Transparent Aluminum material used to contain a large aquarium in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but they may not have realized a similar material would be developed in the laboratories of Germany's Fraunhofer Institute. Transparent alumina ceramics allow unprecedented light-transmittance in a strong and durable medium. The next generation transparent corundum ceramics can be manufactured with complex (even hollow) shapes, and exhibit significant bending strength and micro-hardness. The in-line transmission of transparent ceramics is close to 60% in visible light and approaches the theoretical limit in the infrared range. An even higher visible light transmission of roughly 80 % at 1 mm thickness is enabled by a new sub-micrometer spinel. Faceted colored gemstones of about 1.5 carat have been manufactured with a polycrystalline microstructure of transparent ceramics, and filters have been manufactured for optical applications with the same material. Future applications include super-strong, heat-resistant windows as well as transparent armor. Like Nanogel, transparent ceramics revolutionize the window as it is conventionally understood, and in this case there is an added dimension of fire and blast-resistance, making transparent ceramics ideal for high-hazard applications.

Making the Visible Invisible
Optical Camouflage, Tachi Laboratory, University of Tokyo
While these high-performance, light-transmitting materials compel us to question the nature of solidity, a new technology developed by the University of Tokyo seeks to make matter disappear altogether. Scientists at the Tachi Laboratory have developed Optical Camouflage, which utilizes a collection of devices working in concert to render a subject invisible. Although more encumbering and complicated than Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, this system has essentially the same goal. Optical Camouflage requires the use of clothing – in this case, a hooded jacket – made with a retro-reflective material, which is comprised by thousands of small beads that reflect light precisely according to the angle of incidence. A digital video camera placed behind the person wearing the cloak captures the scene that the individual would otherwise obstruct, and sends the data to a computer for processing. A sophisticated program calculates the appropriate distance and viewing angle, and then transmits the scene via projector using a combiner, or a half-silvered mirror with an optical hole, which allows a witness to perceive a realistic merger of the projected scene with the background – thus rendering the cloak-wearer invisible. Potential applications of this technology include a process called mutual telexistence, in which real-time video of two or more distance-separated individuals is projected onto surrogate robotic participants via sophisticated communications technology, as well as various methods of removing tool-based optical obstructions, such as vehicles that allow pilots and drivers to see more of their exterior environment than is visible through windows, tools that allow doctors to witness an operation through their hands, or projectors that provide exterior views in windowless rooms.

Challenging Solidity
When we consider all of these new disruptive materials and technologies, we see the extraordinary extent to which solidity is being questioned. What is more, the fact that examples all exist in applicable forms today means that the future has already arrived. In the words of Marshall Berman, "All that is solid melts into air."

[This article will appear in the upcoming issue of Ambidextrous magazine.]

Labels: de-solidification, dematerialization, invisibility, transparency

posted by Blaine @ 5:21 PM

Mark said...

using natural light, hemp plastic as clear windows in Henry Ford's hemp car


"Anything that can be made from hydrocarbons (oil, coal,
natural gas), can be made from carbohydrates (plant material)." - source unknown.

The above quote is again important because it dispels the notion that we are dependent upon fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) for fuels, plastics and chemical feed-stocks in industry.

"Synthetic plastics were practically as old as agriculture itself. They were made in the shadow of the pyramids from cooked starch, and celluloid collars antedated the twentieth century, but it took a world war to disclose their infinite potentialities to American industrialists.

From 1918 on, the chemical industry made greater technological advances than even the automobile or aviation, and the great chemical companies which fed it, by getting in early, rapidly built up fabulous fortunes." (p.323, GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER).

Postcard Copyright 1989 Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

The History Channel on cable television had a special show titled: "PLASTIC."

From this show came this general recipe for celluloid plastic: Cellulose [which is plant material] + Camphor (solvent) + Nitric Acid (NO3)

How does the hemp plant fit into the plastic scheme?

The white hemp hurds (shown left) or sticks left when the fiber has been removed are 77% cellulose and are 6 times the weight of the fiber.

Hemp is the most efficient crop for biomass and cellulose worldwide.


From the series "Speaking of Plastics." 1963. Fry Plastics International. Los Angeles, CA. 56 pages. Book size 8 1/2 X 5 1/2 inches. This booklet I picked up at a plastics store.

"Cellulosics is the pioneer story in the history and growth of the great plastics industry as we see it today...Because of the fact that during the middle of the nineteenth century there was a shortage of ivory from which to make billiard balls, one of the most important and versatile industries was born."

In 1869, the Hyatt brothers, in America, developed Cellulose Nitrate into a workable plastic mass they patented. Called Celluloid it was first used for billiard balls, dental plates, and collars and cuffs for shirts.

One interesting thing in looking at the chemical composition of cellulose is remembering that the carbon (C) of plant material such as cellulose is from carbon dioxide (CO2) pulled from the atmosphere, where excess CO2 from fossil fuel burning has created the greenhouse effect and is causing global warming. When carbon is tied up in cellulose plastic this process actually helps reverse global warming.

TYPICAL APPLICATIONS (1963) mentioned in the Cellulosics book are from 100 different formulations and are among the 50,000 viable industrial uses of the hemp plant.

Toys, lampshades, vacuum cleaner parts, combs, shoe heels...portable radio cases, pipe, tubing, tool handles, appliance housing...telephone hand sets, pens, pencils, edge moldings on cabinets...flashlights, frames, heel covers, fabric coating, outdoor movie speakers, knobs...electrical parts, packaging material, electrical insulation, photographic film, outdoor and indoor signs...telephone wires, steering wheels automobile arm rests, football helmets, pistol machine keys, toothbrush handles, fish net floats, fishing lures, hearing aid parts... optical frames, floor sweeper parts, furniture trim, luggage, military applications.

The greatest agricultural researcher of all time, George Washington Carver got his name from his slave owner's family. He discovered hundreds of useful food stuffs and products using agriculture as his basic resource.

We could use the likes of Carver to research the tens of thousands of uses of hemp.


Soybeans originally traveled to the United States by ship when Samuel Bowen smuggled them from China in 1765.

But it was Henry Ford who put them in cars.

When the Great Depression hit, it hit farmers especially hard. Huge farm surpluses meant low crop prices and dwindling income. All of a sudden, Henry Ford's best customers--American farmers--could no longer afford his cars, trucks and tractors. Ford knew that "if we want the farmer to be our customer, we must find a way to be his."

Figure out a way to use agricultural products in industrial manufacturing, and everyone would benefit. He put his chemists to work determining what products could be developed from plants.

After testing numerous crop plants, they narrowed their focus to soybeans. Experimentation was soon rewarded with the discovery of soybean oil which made a superior auto body enamel. Soybean meal was converted to plastic used to make over 20 parts including horn buttons and gearshift knobs.

By 1936, Ford was using a bushel of soybeans in every car that rolled off the line.

But Henry Ford didn't stop there.

While his chefs developed a variety of tasty and nutritious American-style foods from soy (including ice cream) Henry invented soybean "wool", a fiber half the cost of sheep's wool.

Soon a fabric containing 25% soybean wool was being used to upholster many Ford autos. And on special occasions Mr. Ford would sport a suit made of soybean fiber.

- Our thanks to Bill Shurtleff, Soyfoods Center. On a White Wave carton as pictured at left.

There is of course the rest of the Henry Ford story. He didn't stop with a few car parts, Ford predicted that he would some day "grow automobiles from the soil."

Which he did after 12 years of research.

Henry Ford's plastic car p.99 - HEMP, Lifeline to the Future.

(Left), Popular Mechanics Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 6, December, 1941.

Title: Auto Body Made of Plastics Resists Denting Under Hard Blows. (Text below)

(Left, same 1941 article above).
Henry Ford in straw hat.

Here is the auto Henry Ford "grew from the soil."

Its plastic panels, with impact strength 10 times greater than steel, were made from flax, wheat, hemp, spruce pulp.

(left), Quarter scale model of Ford plastic car and its welded tubular steel frame.

Popular Mechanics, 1941, text: "After twelve years of research, the Ford Motor Company has completed an experimental automobile with a plastic body.

Although its design takes advantage of the properties of plastics, the streamline car does not differ greatly in appearance from its steel counterpart. The only steel in the hand-made body is found in the tubular welded frame on which are mounted 14 plastic panels, 3/16 inch thick.

Composed of a mixture of farm crops and synthetic chemicals, the plastic is reported to withstand a blow 10 times as great as steel without denting. Even the Windows and windshield are of plastic.

The total weight of the plastic car is about 2,000 pounds, compared with 3,000 pounds for a steel automobile of the same size.

Although no hint has been given as to when plastic cars may go into production, the experimental model is pictured as a step toward materialization of Henry Ford's belief that some day he would "grow automobiles from the soil."

"When Henry Ford recently unveiled his plastic car, result of 12 years of research, he have the world a glimpse of the automobile of tomorrow, its tough panels molded under hydraulic pressure of 1,500 pounds per square inch from a recipe that calls for 70 percent of cellulose fibers from wheat straw, hemp, and sisal plus 30 percent resin binder.

The only steel in the car is its tubular welded frame. The plastic car weighs a ton, 1,000 pounds lighter than a comparable steel car. Manufacturers are already talking of a low-priced plastic car to test the public's taste by 1943."

I was making energy pellets for a hemp museum demonstration of the ability of hemp to burn. They were round about 1/2 inch in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. I had an iron fry pan heating and pressed a pellet onto the hot surface with a dowel keeping it in motion. The pellet melted to 1/4 its thickness and looked like plastic (shown left). The branding was done with a hot metal hemp leaf button.

The picture on the left shows the steps in making the plastic like substance to the right. I bought some imported hemp seed oil (left), filled the tall jar half full of the oil. With a cloth cover, I left it in a south window for two years to thicken in the sun.

I then poured the thick oil in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and placed it in the sun for two days for a rubbery plastic sheet.

Topics to write on:

Some special words to look up are Parksine, Bakelite, Celluloid.

Early plastic was created to replace Ivory, Tortoise shell, and other natural substances.

George Washington Carver

Hemp: Lifeline... p. 82, 98,

Mark said...

energy Taking Nature's Cue For Cheaper Solar Power in synthetic dyes for building materials and glass; nice overlap example in two different categories

Source: Massey University
Date: April 6, 2007
More on:
Solar Energy, Electricity, Electronics, Batteries, Optics, Energy Technology
Taking Nature's Cue For Cheaper Solar Power

Science Daily — Solar cell technology developed by Massey University’s Nanomaterials Research Centre will enable New Zealanders to generate electricity from sunlight at a 10th of the cost of current silicon-based photo-electric solar cells.

Dr. Wayne Campbell. (Credit: Image courtesy of Massey University)

Dr Wayne Campbell and researchers in the centre have developed a range of coloured dyes for use in dye-sensitised solar cells.

The synthetic dyes are made from simple organic compounds closely related to those found in nature. The green dye Dr Campbell (pictured) is synthetic chlorophyll derived from the light-harvesting pigment plants use for photosynthesis.

Other dyes being tested in the cells are based on haemoglobin, the compound that give blood its colour.

Dr Campbell says that unlike the silicon-based solar cells currently on the market, the 10x10cm green demonstration cells generate enough electricity to run a small fan in low-light conditions – making them ideal for cloudy climates. The dyes can also be incorporated into tinted windows that trap to generate electricity.

He says the green solar cells are more environmentally friendly than silicon-based cells as they are made from titanium dioxide – a plentiful, renewable and non-toxic white mineral obtained from New Zealand’s black sand. Titanium dioxide is already used in consumer products such as toothpaste, white paints and cosmetics.

“The refining of pure silicon, although a very abundant mineral, is energy-hungry and very expensive. And whereas silicon cells need direct sunlight to operate efficiently, these cells will work efficiently in low diffuse light conditions,” Dr Campbell says.

“The expected cost is one 10th of the price of a silicon-based solar panel, making them more attractive and accessible to home-owners.”

The Centre’s new director, Professor Ashton Partridge, says they now have the most efficient porphyrin dye in the world and aim to optimise and improve the cell construction and performance before developing the cells commercially.

“The next step is to take these dyes and incorporate them into roofing materials or wall panels. We have had many expressions of interest from New Zealand companies,” Professor Partridge says.

He says the ultimate aim of using nanotechnology to develop a better solar cell is to convert as much sunlight to electricity as possible.

“The energy that reaches earth from sunlight in one hour is more than that used by all human activities in one year”.

The solar cells are the product of more than 10 years research funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Massey University.

Mark said...

Abalone-inspired ceramics:

On the underside of the Red Abalone (Haliotis Rufescens) shell is a remarkable iridescent ceramic that is twice as tough as our high-tech ceramics. Mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, is composed of alternating layers of calcium carbonate (in a special crystal form called aragonite) and Lustrin-A protein.

The combination of hard and elastic layers gives nacre remarkable toughness and strength, allowing the material to slide under compressive force.

The “bricks” of calcium carbonate are offset, and this brick-wall architecture stops cracks from propagating. Several groups have mimicked nacre’s structure, using materials such as aluminum and titanium alloy to create a metal laminate tough enough for armor.

Dr. Jeffrey Brinker’s group at Sandia National Laboratories used a self-assembly process to create mineral/polymer layered structures that are optically clear but much tougher than glass.

Unlike traditional “heat, beat, and treat” technologies, Brinker’s evaporation-induced, low temperature process allows liquid building blocks to self-assemble and harden into very coatings that can toughen windshields, bodies of solar cars, airplanes or anything that needs to be lightweight but fracture-resistant.

The complex nano-laminate structure of these bio-composite materials is characterized and related to their mechanical properties.

Mark said...
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Mark said...

New Light Source Lasts 15 Years Without a Recharge

Posted by ecoble under

Earth-Friendly Products, Energy and Power, Sustainable Innovation

How about a glowing light source that lasts for 15 years instead of the typical 15 minutes of a glowstick? GlowPaint’s newest product does just that and is also non-toxic and inexpensive and doesn’t require a recharge via solar or electrical sources for its entire lifespan. According to the company, “This has potential to save billions in energy costs world-wide. Litroenergy™ surpasses all known available lighting options for cost/durability/reliability and safety.” Their products are expected to be used to replace other forms of safety, emergency and novelty lighting duties normally performed by glow sticks, LEDs and other light sources.


“The Litrospheres are not effected by heat or cold, and are 5,000-pound crush resistant. They can be injection molded or added to paint. The fill rate of Litroenergy micro particles in plastic injection molding material or paint is about 20%. The constant light gives off no U.V. rays, and can be designed to emit almost any color of light desired.” PureEnergySystems


Litroenergy was also submitted to the Nasa Create the Future Design Contest to compete based on its originality and potentially major impact on sustainable energy technology. More information can be found via GlowPaint’s online patent application though much of their research remains proprietary.


Mark said...

Amazing Light Emission Properties Of Gold Lead To Many Applications

ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2000) — COLLEGE STATION - The discovery of unexpected light emission properties of gold by a Texas A&M University chemist is leading to a wide range of applications in medicine, genetics and chemistry.

John P. Fackler Jr., Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology at Texas A&M, discovered six years ago that some gold compounds were emitting fluorescent light in a much longer time than expected.

When a chemical compound is hit by light, it gets excited, and further emits fluorescent light. Fackler discovered that the fluorescent light emitted by some gold compounds could last one million times more than usually observed.

"The light must get trapped inside the compound," says Fackler. "Then the light bursts into a glow in longer times than expected."

Fackler noticed that this fluorescence occurs when gold atoms are arranged in chains and the distance between them is 3.5 angstroms (one angstrom is one millionth of a centimeter).

"The gold compound emits fluorescence because gold atoms form linear chains and interact with each other," Fackler says.

"The distance between the atoms is very important. If it is over 3.5 angstroms, you do not get fluorescence; if you are below that value, the light changes its color."

The fluorescent light also changes its color depending on the atoms surrounding gold.

So different atoms can reveal their presence by the different colors of the fluorescent light emitted by the gold compound.

"These gold compounds have some beautiful capabilities for becoming sensors to detect the presence of small concentrations of components, because light changes its color when gold interacts with different components," Fackler says.

The light emission properties of gold can also be used to detect diseases when gold attaches to nucleic acids in cells.

"As demonstrated by Chad A. Mirkin, professor of chemistry at Northwestern University, gold clusters have been designed to probe nucleic acid structure that might be associated with a particular disease," Fackler says.

One of the most important applications of gold is its use in medical drugs. "In the early 1900s, it was found that gold compounds, particularly gold with sulfur, made people with rheumatoid arthritis feel better," Fackler says. "That led to major efforts to develop drugs that dealt with rheumatoid-like diseases."

These drugs originally were introduced in people by injection. About 15 years ago, gold drug pills became available.

"This has been a godsend for a lot of people who can just pop a few pills and get out of bed," Fackler says.

The healing properties of gold in rheumatoid arthritis patients may be due to the way gold interacts with a substance called peroxynitrite, a poison probably produced by the affected cells.

"Peroxynitrite may be the major villain in the deterioration of cells and components of bone that are associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Gold is clearly involved in the production of peroxinitrites, but the details are still under study," Fackler says.

Gold drugs are effective for only 25 percent of the patients, however. Many patients develop allergic reactions and other conditions that prevent them from using the drugs.

Gold-based therapy, called chrysotherapy, is also used to cure patients from cancer. Scientists are developing gold drugs to be used in the treatment of prostate cancer.

"The hope is that some of these gold drugs will be as useful in prostate cancers as the platinum drugs are," Fackler says. "To this time, we have not found any that have been as successful as the platinum compounds, but there are still a lot of new compounds that have been generated with gold that may well demonstrate effective properties."

The new gold compounds discovered by Fackler are also used in chemistry. They can act as catalysts, which are intermediaries helping chemical reactions go faster and lead to new chemical products.

"Probably the most exciting applications involving gold follow from the development of brand new catalytic systems," Fackler says.

Besides all the fascination associated with gold as a sign of wealth, gold is now proving to be as fascinating for its many applications.


Mark said...

Engineers Make Cheaper, Brighter Displays Out Of Organic Materials

July 1, 2005 — Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) are plastic-based materials that are able to emit light. Engineers are beginning to make displays out of OLEDs by spraying the materials on a surface, the way an ink-jet printer works. The new OLED displays promise to provide a cheaper, brighter, less power-hungry alternative to liquid-crystal displays -- the ones commonly used in laptop computers and cell phones.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- If you're getting ready to buy a new cell phone, computer monitor or TV, this new technology will change everything.

A new type of screen is hitting the market. It's called OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, and it's a term you're going to see a lot of in the next few years. "It's a much brighter display," explains Steven Van Slyke, Research Fellow of Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y.

OLED is changing the way we see our cell phones, digital cameras, and even small-screen television. But that's just the beginning. He says, "Eventually we'll get larger and larger to portable DVD player displays and then onto laptop displays and then eventually into the computer monitor and TV markets."

What's so special about OLED? Right now, displays on things like your camera or cell phone are LCDs, or liquid crystal displays. But OLEDs are made from plastic. The display is made by spraying layers of OLED droplets similar to the way an ink-jet printer prints.

OLEDs are made from fewer materials so they'll cost less, use less power allowing your laptop battery to last longer, and give off their own light so the picture is brighter and easier to see. It doesn't make any difference what direction you view the screen at. Van Slyke says, "You get the same perceived color."

Cell phones with OLED screens are already on the market, but big screen TVs won't be available for a few years.


Mark said...

Saving Electricity And Saving Money
Electrical Engineers Create Money-saving Light System

May 1, 2007 — A photosensor paired with a dimming ballast controls fluorescent lighting and adjusts lights all over the user's home. A microcontroller automatically calibrates [to current] amounts of daylight and adjusts [adding artificial] electrical light accordingly.

Lighting an office building can cost a lot of money, and sometimes those lights are left on even when natural sunlight is pouring through the windows.

Now, an easy solution, called DaySwitch, makes the most of those sunny days at work and soon, at home.

"Lighting has a big impact on our lives but we pay the price because it uses a lot of electricity," says Andrew Bierman, M.S., a lighting research scientist from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Lighting makes up 25 percent of energy consumed by businesses. However, businesses could soon lower their electric bills.

Bierman developed the DaySwitch; it uses natural light to conserve electricity. "DaySwitch is an automatic device that will simply shut the lights off when there is plenty of daylight available," he explains. The DaySwitch is a tiny sensor that measures sunlight in an area and then it sends a signal to turn lights on or off as needed.

Bierman told DBIS about the inspiration behind the invention.

He says, "You don't have to have the electric lights on when they are really not providing any more useful light than you already have with daylight."

Unlike typical lighting controls, the DaySwitch is easy to install and costs less than $25 per system.

After it's installed, an easy-to-use remote control can reset the sensor to your desired level, so there is no need to call expensive electricians.

When natural sunlight brightens the space, the lights go off, which cuts the lighting needs of a building in half, therefore saving on energy costs.

DaySwitch could be available for homes within a year.

The Optical Society of contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.


Mark said...

Are Bioluminescent Bacteria Behind Milky Seas Legend?

July 1, 2006 — For centuries, sailors in the Indian Ocean have told stories of seas glowing with a dim, white light at night. Satellite images have now confirmed the appearance of what seem to be bioluminescent bacteria, right where a ship's crew reported seeing the "milky seas" 11 years ago. Scientists say this rare phenomenon could be a way for the bacteria to attract the attention of fish so they can enter their guts and live there.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Two scientists believe they've solved a mystery that's defied explanation for more than 400 years. The phenomenon known as milky seas, once thought to be folklore, may be real.

"They were completely surrounded by waters that appeared as a field of snow or clouds in all directions," says marine meteorologist Steve Miller of the Naval Research Laboratory/Marine Meteorology Division in Monterey, Calif.

Miller is quoting the log of the S.S. Lima as it cruised off the coast of Somalia 11 years ago. There are hundreds of such reports since the seventeenth century. In Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," crew members talk about "sailing in a sea of milk."

Is it fact or fiction?

"The continuous nature of the light and the, sort of, the milky look of it both kind of indicate that it's coming from something that's really, really small and is producing a continuous glow," bioluminescence expert Steve Haddock, of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., tells DBIS.

The milky seas are caused by bacteria that produce light just like fireflies light up at night, giving a signal.

"All the bacteria that are in that volume will start to glow," Haddock says.

To prove their point, Miller and Haddock searched satellite images to find pictures of the Indian Ocean when the S.S. Lima traveled it. They plotted the ship's course, and there it was on the satellite image...

"It was one of those chill-down-the-spine moments that you hope to get once or twice in your career," Miller tells DBIS.

How many bacteria would it take to light up the seas? Four billion trillion.

Haddock says, "If you were going to cover the surface of the earth with a four-inch layer of sand and then count all the grains of sand in that layer, that's the same number as the number of bacteria in the milky sea."

...An unsolved mystery with a hypothesis that just may explain it. Proving once again, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

The milky sea phenomena seem to only last a few days. Miller and Haddock hope to find out about one in time to dispatch a science vessel to study it. The milky seas seem to occur primarily in the Indian Ocean

BACKGROUND: Scientists are now investigating the reason that the ocean sometimes lights up in the dead of night. This glow has mystified sailors for over 400 years. Scientists speculate that the bacterium vibrio harveyi, a cousin of the microbe that causes cholera, is responsible for milky seas. They have recently been able to capture the first satellite images of a "milky sea." Thanks to satellite imagery, scientists can rush out to investigate these glowing patches of seawater that were previously thought to be just folklore.

WHAT IS BIOLUMINESCENCE: Bioluminescence is the ability of a living organism to emit light. In bioluminescence a chemical reaction triggers an electron to jump to a higher level. Then the electron loses energy and falls back to a lower level, emitting the excess energy in the form of a particle of light. No energy is lost as heat, as in other means of light production, so bioluminescence is often called "cold light." The most common color of bioluminescent light produced by marine organisms is blue, which is also the color that penetrates farthest through water. In "milky seas," this light appears white because the rods in the human eye (used for night vision) don't discriminate color.

GLOWING BACTERIA: Dinoflagellates are organisms that cause red tides, flashing waves and the sparkling waves behind boats as they churn through the water, but these organisms must be physically stimulated to produce those brief bright flashes. In contrast, vibrio harveyi will glow with a continuous light on their own, under the right conditions. Those conditions include very high concentrations of the bacterial in order to accumulate enough of the trace chemical that induces this light production. A conservative estimate calls for 40 billion trillion bacteria packed into a space the size of Hawaii. This is equivalent to the number of grains of sand it would take to cover the entire earth with a layer 10 centimeters thick.

The American Society for Microbiology contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.


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