February 2013

FEATURE

Nature has the answer

A more efficient light-emitting diode (LED) has been made possible by scientists copying the jagged scales found on fireflies.

Researchers from Belgium, France, and Canada studied the creatures’ bioluminescent abdomen, which flashes to attract mates. The abdomen has jagged scales that enhance the glow of its flashes. The scientists identified an unexpected pattern with the scales, and applied this to an LED overlayer to mimic the natural structure.

FEATURE

New avenues

Carbon dioxide lasers represent a mature technology, and the expansion of competing technologies into their traditional market is much reported, but this staple of the job shop is finding that industry’s more exotic composite materials are opening up new markets.

Andrew Held is the director of marketing for Coherent’s CO2 business unit. He told Electro Optics: ‘What we’re doing here is tailoring our lasers to new applications and materials. That’s where CO2 – an older technology – is finding new applications. The newer materials are ideally suited to 10 microns.’

FEATURE

Printing at the extreme

The likes of Intel are finding it more difficult to make the smallest features on their silicon chips with current immersion lithography techniques. If microchips keep getting faster at the rate predicted by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, a new means of printing circuits on silicon is needed. Enter extreme UV lithography.

FEATURE

The finest in filters

Spectrogon, the Swedish manufacturer of optical interference filters, optical coatings and holographic diffraction gratings, has its roots back in the late 1960s. Research on optical thin film at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and at AGA, a major Swedish industrial group, eventually led to the creation of Spectrogon – a company that, by the late 1980s, had become a subsidiary of the Spectra Physics group.