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Researchers Use Salmon DNA To Make LED Lightbulbs

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the bright-ideas-that-smell-fishy dept.

Biotech 66

Al writes "Researchers from the University of Connecticut have created a new light-emitting material by doping spun strands of salmon DNA with fluorescent dyes. The material, which is robust because DNA is such a strong polymer, absorbs energy from ultraviolet light and gives off different colors depending on the amounts of dye it contains. A team led by chemistry professor Gregory Sotzing created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter. The color-tunable DNA material relies on an energy-transfer mechanism between two different fluorescent dyes, and the DNA keeps the dye molecules separated at a distance of 2 to 10 nanometers from each other."

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66 comments

I'll get my coat (4, Funny)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783607)

What bass voltage did he have to apply to get it to work?

Re:I'll get my coat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28783633)

While you're grabbing your coat, don't forget your wizard hat.

Re:I'll get my coat (4, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 4 years ago | (#28785151)

Based on Ohm's law, you'd take the (downstream) current and multiply by the resistance to get the voltage. Since you're dealing with a liquid, you could also divide by the conductivity, known as *roe*.

Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783641)

Considering this is almost exactly how a flourescent bulb works (UV->flourescence->light) I wonder if this is actually cheaper, longer lasting or more efficent in some way, or just a neat bit of science with no future in terms of practical application.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

Kompressor (595513) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783765)

Well, if we can skip the mercury component, it might be significantly more environmentally friendly.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783887)

The mercury is in mostly vapor form in the actual flourescent bulb - which is the UV source. You can take the phosphors that have 50 years of engineering behind them and place them on a UV diode (no mercury) and probably get a cheaper, more efficient and longer lasting product.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

josteos (455905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783779)

Since we already have white LED's, I'd guess the real benefit is the ability to easily fine-tune the colors by adjusting the coating.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (4, Funny)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784443)

Since we already have white LED's, I'd guess the real benefit is the ability to give PETA something else about which they can complain..

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784739)

"White" LEDs today use phosphors just like this one does, but the phosphors are inefficient. That's why white LEDs aren't the 10x gain in efficiency over CFBs you'd expect from LEDs. The problem with non-phosphorescent white LED lights is that green LEDs are extremely hard to make, and without them you can't combine a red-green-blue triplet to get something approximating white light. Even then the energy bands would be very narrow and some colors may look very strange under it.

Anyway, this is basically a new manufacturing technique that has the potential for decreasing chemical use and increasing efficiency, not a new way of producing white light.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789951)

I think you mean blue LEDs. Green LEDs are very cheap and have been around for ages.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784013)

I wonder if this is actually cheaper, longer lasting or more efficent in some way, or just a neat bit of science with no future in terms of practical application.

I wonder if the article mentions anything like that...

The light emitters should also be longer-lasting because DNA is a very strong polymer, Sotzing says. "It's well beyond other polymers [in strength]," he notes, adding that it lasts 50 times longer than acrylic.

...

"It's really very cool [work], and I think that it has practical promise," says Aaron Clapp, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Iowa State University. "[But] it seems like an overly dramatic way of doing it."

Drat! Nothing!

I guess it doesn't specifically say "This is directly applicable to the market" or "This is really more of a practical demonstration of a concept that we'll iron out to make something better" or "This is clearly better than the options that are out there now."

Keep in mind also that this is technology review, they seem to emphasize the "Hey, cool little tidbit" rather than a detailed explanation as to market advantages, and are also light (heh heh) on the technical details wheras publications from the acutal researchers would be much more illuminating (too easy).

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (2, Funny)

ballpoint (192660) | more than 4 years ago | (#28786085)

The smell also needs to be compared. A flourescent bulb smells like wheat, a florescent bulb like roses, while this smells like fish.

Re:Compare to standard flourescent bulb? (1)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28788395)

Why do you have to post such rye comments? Sheesh.. I guess that's what I get on slashdot for not using spell check.

Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783677)

I don't see what is so extra-special about salmon DNA. Why not housefly DNA? Bog knows there's several orders of magnitude more of those little buggers than salmon. Much of the wild salmon stock has dropped, and the salmon farms aren't helping matters. You would think if they needed DNA, they could get it in bulk from termites or ants or flies or algae or crabgrass...

rs

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (1)

ikefox (1566973) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784223)

I was wondering the same thing. Since they are using the DNA for its physical properties, and not its chemical "code", why salmon DNA?

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (3, Informative)

dfornika (1544099) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784425)

It was most likely Salmon Sperm DNA, which is a common molecular biology reagent. If you've ever handled a spawning salmon, you know that the slightest squeeze will yield a lot of genetic material.

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (3, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784271)

Or bacteria, which will give you orders of magnitude more DNA overnight than a week of fly collecting, and which are much easier to purify DNA from.

This article [optics.org] also talks about using salmon DNA for lights. They had a good source:

Steckl and colleagues used DNA from Japan. "Salmon fishing is a very large industry in Hokkaido, Japan, some 200 000 tons per year," explained Steckl. "While the meat and eggs are edible, the male roe is normally a waste product but it is very rich in DNA."

That doesn't seem to be the same lab, and that article predates the technology review one. Maybe the Sotzing lab (featured in the technology review article) read the publications by Steckl lab (optics.org article) who used salmon DNA and decided to just use salmon DNA as they did to hurry up and publish rather than spend time seeing if salmon DNA was the only one which would do it.

Of course, it could also have been that the Steckl lab got wind of the Sotzing lab's use of salmon DNA and just beat them to the punch. And these aren't the actual publications from either lab, so it really could be anything, they could have even collaborated. Either way, it seems like they just haven't tested other DNA, the optics.org article quotes Steckl as saying they might try other DNA.

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28784623)

Male roe? I thought roe were fish "eggs." Did I miss the memo again?

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784417)

Isn't it obvious? Salmon DNA is cheap and easy to get! Just take any fish, cut it open, rip out the testicles, then squeeze them. Bam! Instant DNA with no waste to anything, and boy do you get a lot!

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (1)

SlashBugs (1339813) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784683)

It's a common reagent in molecular biology labs, so it's probably just that they had some handy and could buy more, ready-purified, very cheaply.

The reason it's so common in labs is that it's extracted from salmon sperm, which is produced in colossal quantity at salmon farms, and the excess sold to scientists. Extracting DNA from sperm is much easier than, say, grinding up a whole fly. Once you've decided that you're after sperm, fish pump their sperm out into the water anyway so you don't need to "milk" it in the way that you'd need to if you wanted e.g. bull sperm.

Re:Eh? I thought DNA was DNA... (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28785857)

You can get DNA out of most living tissues*, but the key factor here is cost and purity. A large part of the sperm cell is a mass of tightly-packed DNA, and compared with other tissues you have less protein, RNA, and other junk that needs to be separated out. And as previous repliers to this thread have mentioned, Salmon Sperm is cheap to obtain in large quantities.

*: Note: Not all. For instance, mammalian red blood cells have neither a nucleus or mitochondria, so no DNA. The DNA in a blood sample comes from other types of cells present.

Makes you wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28783685)

What if DNA were from some discarded alien light bulb that used a micro-organism grown to provide light?

Meh (3, Funny)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783701)

... created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter.

I did this by accident once, while trying to make breakfast.

Re:Meh (0)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28786289)

... created the new material by mixing salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pumping the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it dries and forms long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. The researchers then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter.

I did this by accident once, while trying to make breakfast.

Haha, yeah. That exact quote just got me thinking:

Jesus Christ, science is insane.

-Taylor

Instincts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28783719)

What good is a lightbulb that keeps trying to swim back to the factory to spawn?

Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28783737)

Call me when they can make lasers from shark DNA...

We're just scaling back (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#28783797)

We're just scaling back the whole "sharks with lasers" project to something less dangerous. We've learned our lesson, really!

Reminds me of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28783937)

The Simpsons episode In Marge We Trust.

now i know whos leaving after the dolphins!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28784073)

so long and thanks for all the fish :)

My dog lost his nose. How does he smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28784297)

Incoherently.

a fishful of dollars (2, Interesting)

drkoemans (666135) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784483)

this reminds me of that futurama episode where anchovy oil is the ultimate robot lubricant and extremely valuable after they have been fished to extinction. art imitates life yet again.

luminosity? cost? (2, Interesting)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784733)

Is there a drop in luminosity compared to other leds? I mean this is really cool but if it isn't going to be as bright as any other process to make LEDs it's almost moot. Especially if it costs a lot more to make.

What wavelength of UV? (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784837)

Also, DNA is degraded by UV, so unless this is at a specific wavelength of UV that doesn't interact with the DNA molecule itself this definitely won't be longer lasting.

I was right! (2, Funny)

clovis (4684) | more than 4 years ago | (#28784921)

My wife had been bugging me to throw out all those salmon I'd been keeping in the garage. "Whatever are you going to use them for?" she wanted to know. I'll show her this and then we'll know who's the clever one!

Re:I was right! (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28786341)

You should have told her:

"What would I use salmon for!? What do you think!? I'm going to mix salmon DNA with two types of dye, then pump the solution from a fine needle while a voltage is applied between the needle tip and a grounded copper plate covered with a glass slide. As the liquid jet comes out, it will dry and form long nanofibers that are deposited on the glass slide as a mat. I will then spin this nanofiber mat directly on the surface of an ultraviolet LED to make a white-light emitter. DUH!"

-Taylor

Re:I was right! (1)

clovis (4684) | more than 4 years ago | (#28800161)

I lie awake going over and over in my head what I _should_ have said, and that was it!
Thanks man! I'm gonna use this next time.

"Can we dominate a species more than that?" (2, Funny)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28785481)

We'll eat your eggs by the spoonful, with Vodka. And your very DNA will be used as a fluorescent dye.

(I admit, I stole the idea for the joke from Louis CK. [funnyordie.com] Genius comedian, that guy.)

Re:"Can we dominate a species more than that?" (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28786397)

We'll eat your eggs by the spoonful, with Vodka. And your very DNA will be used as a fluorescent dye.

(I admit, I stole the idea for the joke from Louis CK. [funnyordie.com] Genius comedian, that guy.)

Haha, I recognized that right away! I love Lois CK. ..barrel of duck vaginas... heh.
-Taylor

why salmon and it will cost to much (4, Informative)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 4 years ago | (#28786501)

several posters have asked why salmon dna - ifyou look in a std catalog (say www.sial.com) you will see that fish dna is much cheaper then bacterial (e coli)
this is cause each sperm cell has ~~1,000 times more dna then a bacterial cell, and sperm are easy to collect (hold the jokes) and easy to get dna out of - basically, you just put the sperm in a solution of detergent, and the dna pops out.

but dna is pretty $$ (retail price of 48 dollars a gram in 10 gram lots at sial.com), it degrades in the environment, and typically, the organic dyes that bind to dna have greatly reduced stability compared to inorganic phosphors

sounds like more ivory tower nonsense that will never lead to reasonably priced, cheap product

"strength" (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 4 years ago | (#28789495)

TFA reports:

The light emitters should also be longer-lasting because DNA is a very strong polymer, Sotzing says. "It's well beyond other polymers [in strength]," he notes, adding that it lasts 50 times longer than acrylic.

Strength as a material property has no time dimension. What material property is Mr. Patel referring to in his paraphrase of Sotzing?

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