David Kirkpatrick

September 2, 2010

Improvements in LED lighting coming?

Looks pretty promising. I haven’t blogged about alternative lighting in a while, but I remain very fascinated about the potential for LED lighting. I have two LED bulbs right now, and as cool as they are (figuratively and literally) they suffer from the main complaints against LEDs right now — they are quite dim (albeitly by design in these particular bulb’s case) and they are very unidirectional and suitable only for spot lighting applications.

Here’s the latest news in LEDs and looks to be quite ambitious and very interesting. I’m looking forward to being able to replace all my residential lighting with crazy long-lasting and cheap-to-run LEDs.

From the link:

Researchers from the Nichia Corporation in Tokushima, Japan, have set an ambitious goal: to develop a white LED that can replace every interior and exterior light bulb currently used in homes and offices. The properties of their latest white LED – a luminous flux of 1913 lumens and a luminous efficacy of 135 lumens per watt at 1 amp – enable it to emit more light than a typical 20-watt fluorescent bulb, as well as more light for a given amount of power. With these improvements, the researchers say that the new LED can replace traditional fluorescent bulbs for all general lighting applications, and also be used for automobile headlights and LCD backlighting.

The history of luminous efficacy in different types of lighting shows the rapid improvements in white LEDs. The years in which the white light sources were developed are also shown. Credit: Yukio Narukawa, et al.

January 7, 2010

Mood lighting and outdoor living

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:26 pm

What is the single best way to set a mood with lighting indoors, or out? I’m guessing an almost universal answer would be the soft, flickering glow of a natural fire. The source can be as varied as warm fireplace, a campfire, a single candle on a tabletop or even what was most likely one of mankind’s first inventions after harnessing fire — the torch. If you are an outdoor living aficionado you’re looking to spend as much time in you outdoor living space as possible, and with a wide variety of atmosphere and mood.  When thinking about lighting options, don’t look past patio torches. They are time-tested and can be very attractive as decor alongside the utility of firelight.

Outdora offers a variety of outdoor torches including hanging torches, standing torches and table top torches with fuel options as varied as propane, candle, lamp oil, and for anyone looking for a bit of insect repellent to go along with the light, citronella oil. Just imagine the look and effect of a series of garden torches strategically placed around your outdoor living space.

Standing torches are available in a number of designs including tiki-style, colonial-style that can replace other outdoor lighting and torches designed to be placed in large planters. Hanging torches are exactly what they sound like — torches meant to be hung, creating the impression the light is floating in mid-air. Hanging torches have a lantern look with decorative openings to allow the light to escape. Another torch with a perfectly descriptive name is the table top torch. These torches are meant to be place on a table and come in several styles including lantern and oil lamp.

Whatever type of outdoor torch strikes your fancy, it’s sure to make your outdoor living space a little more interesting, a bit more mysterious and certainly more romantic.


December 18, 2008

LED lighting news, part two

Okay, I’ve already posted one release on this very bit of news, but this one is a bit different — and it comes with pictures! So there you go.

It goes without saying, I’ve really been looking forward to cost-effective LED lighting for the home.

The release:

Researchers lay out vision for lighting ‘revolution’

LEDs and smart lighting could save trillions of dollars, spark global innovation

IMAGE: If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient LEDs for a period of 10 years, researchers say it would reduce global oil consumption by 962 million barrels,…

Click here for more information. 

Troy, N.Y. – A “revolution” in the way we illuminate our world is imminent, according to a paper published this week by two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Innovations in photonics and solid state lighting will lead to trillions of dollars in cost savings, along with a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe, the researchers forecast.

A new generation of lighting devices based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will supplant the common light bulb in coming years, the paper suggests. In addition to the environmental and cost benefits of LEDs, the technology is expected to enable a wide range of advances in areas as diverse as healthcare, transportation systems, digital displays, and computer networking.

“What the transistor meant to the development of electronics, the LED means to the field of photonics. This core device has the potential to revolutionize how we use light,” wrote co-authors E. Fred Schubert and Jong Kyu Kim.

IMAGE: If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient LEDs for a period of 10 years, researchers say it would reduce global oil consumption by 962 million barrels,…

Click here for more information. 

Schubert is the Wellfleet Senior Constellation Professor of Future Chips at Rensselaer, and heads the university’s National Science Foundation-funded Smart Lighting Center. Kim is a research assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering. The paper, titled “Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting,” will be published in the Dec. 22, 2008 issue of Optics Express.

To read the full paper, visit: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-16-26-21835.

Researchers are able to control every aspect of light generated by LEDs, allowing the light sources to be tweaked and optimized for nearly any situation, Schubert and Kim said. In general LEDs will require 20 times less power than today’s conventional light bulbs, and five times less power than “green” compact fluorescent bulbs.

If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with LEDs for a period of 10 years, Schubert and Kim estimate the following benefits would be realized:


  • Total energy consumption would be reduced by 1,929.84 joules
  • Electrical energy consumption would be reduced by terawatt hours
  • Financial savings of $1.83 trillion
  • Carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 10.68 gigatons
  • Crude oil consumption would be reduced by 962 million barrels
  • The number of required global power plants would be reduced by 280


With all of the promise and potential of LEDs, Schubert and Kim said it is important not to pigeonhole or dismiss smart lighting technology as a mere replacement for conventional light bulbs. The paper is a call to arms for scientists and engineers, and stresses that advances in photonics will position solid state lighting as a catalyst for unexpected, currently unimaginable technological advances.

“Deployed on a large scale, LEDs have the potential to tremendously reduce pollution, save energy, save financial resources, and add new and unprecedented functionalities to photonic devices. These factors make photonics what could be termed a benevolent tsunami, an irresistible wave, a solution to many global challenges currently faced by humanity and will be facing even more in the years to come,” the researchers wrote. “Transcending the replacement paradigm will open up a new chapter in photonics: Smart lighting sources that are controllable, tunable, intelligent, and communicative.”

Possible smart lighting applications include rapid biological cell identification, interactive roadways, boosting plant growth, and better supporting human circadian rhythms to reduce an individual’s dependency on sleep-inducing drugs or reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.




In October, Rensselaer announced its new Smart Lighting Research Center, in partnership with Boston University and the University of New Mexico, and funded by an $18.5 million, five-year award from the NSF Generation Three Engineering Research Center Program. The three primary research thrusts of the center are developing novel materials, device technology, and systems applications to further the understanding and proliferation of smart lighting technologies.

For more information on the Smart Lighting Center, visit: smartlighting.rpi.edu.

To read the news release announcing the Smart Lighting Center, visit: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2503.

December 17, 2008

LED lighting news

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:46 am

One of my favorite emerging technologies — LED lighting for the home.

The release:

The Green (and blue, red, and white) lights of the future

Special energy issue of Optics Express describes ‘coming revolution’ in LED lighting

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17– A revolution in energy-efficient, environmentally-sound, and powerfully-flexible lighting is coming to businesses and homes, according to a paper in latest special energy issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal.

The paper envisions the future of lighting — a future with widespread use of light emitting diodes (LEDs), which offer a number of obvious and subtle advantages over traditional light bulbs.

“We are at the verge of a revolution,” says the paper’s senior author E. Fred Schubert, a professor of electrical engineering and physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. “There are tremendous opportunities that open up with LED lighting.”

LEDs are more rugged, resembling something closer to hard plastic than thin glass. They are also more environmentally sound, since their manufacture does not require toxic substances such as mercury.

As an alternative to the traditional incandescent light bulb, LED lights provide significant energy savings. They can be 2,000 percent more efficient than conventional light bulbs and 500 percent more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs. Schubert predicts that widespread use of LEDs over the course of 10 years would save more than $1 trillion in energy costs, eliminate the need for nearly a billion barrels of oil over 10 years, and lead to a substantial reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

All of these advantages make LEDs a good replacement light source, says Schubert, adding that this is why there has been a tremendous recent expansion of the LED industry, which is growing by double-digit rates. However, he adds, the true potential of LED lighting lies in their ability to transform — rather than simply replace — lighting technology.

“Replacement is fine,” says Schubert. “But we must look beyond the replacement paradigm to see the true benefits of LED lights.” Schubert envisions a day when light switches give way to light switchboards that control not only the brightness of a light, but its color temperature and hue. Light spectra could be custom-tailored for all wavelengths, accurately matching the sun’s light qualities and vary these characteristics according to the time of day, for instance. This could revolutionize indoor agriculture and help night-shift workers and people who are jet-lagged. The use of polarized light from LEDs could also improve computer displays and lower the glare from car headlights.

In his article, Schubert lays out how such future, “smart” light sources, can harness the huge potential of LEDs.




Paper: “Transcending the Replacement Paradigm of Solid-State Lighting,” E. Fred Schubert and Jong Kyu Kim, Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 6, December 22, 2008, Focus Issue on Solar Energy edited by Alan Kost, University of Arizona.

About OSA
Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

October 11, 2008

Flexible OLED offers new lighting options

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:28 pm

I’ve done a fair amount of blogging on OLEDs (hit this link for those posts and all my praise for the tech) so I do follow the developments and breakthroughs to a great extent. This application of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes is very exciting because it has the possibility of completely revolutionizing the concept of artificial lighting.

Plus it’s just plain cool.

From the second link:

On a bank of the Mohawk River, a windowless industrial building of corrugated steel hides something that could make floor lamps, bedside lamps, wall sconces and nearly every other household lamp obsolete. It’s a machine that prints lights.

The size of a semitrailer, it coats an 8-inch wide plastic film with chemicals, then seals them with a layer of metal foil. Apply electric current to the resulting sheet, and it lights up with a blue-white glow.

You could tack that sheet to a wall, wrap it around a pillar or even take a translucent version and tape it to your windows. Unlike practically every other source of lighting, you wouldn’t need a lamp or conventional fixture for these sheets, though you would need to plug them into an outlet.

The sheets owe their luminance to compounds known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. While there are plenty of problems to be worked out with the technology, it’s not the dream of a wild-eyed startup.

OLEDs are beginning to be used in TVs and cell-phone displays, and big names like Siemens and Philips are throwing their weight behind the technology to make it a lighting source as well. The OLED printer was made by General Electric Co. on its sprawling research campus here in upstate New York. It’s not far from where a GE physicist figured out a practical way to use tungsten metal as the filament in a regular light bulb. That’s still used today, nearly a century later.

October 1, 2008

The coming future of LED lighting …

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:36 pm

… has had me very excited about the prospects for quite a while now.

Here’s a press release from today from Philips and their take on the future of home lighting.

The release:

Philips Reveals Future of Home Lighting at Museum of Modern Art Exhibition

BURLINGTON, Mass., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ — Already illuminating thousands of commercial environments today, Philips’ solid-state lighting technology moves into the home as part of Cellophane House, on view at The Museum of Modern Art’s Home Delivery, Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit in New York. Surpassing the limitations of conventional lamps and fixtures, Cellophane House is a five-story, fully transparent and sustainable house illuminated solely by LED sources as a provocation for the future possibilities of residential lighting.

Home Delivery is a two-part exhibition on the historical and contemporary significance of factory-produced architecture. It includes five full-scale houses, one of which is Cellophane House, in the outdoor space west of the Museum. Designed by KieranTimberlake Associates, Cellophane House features a translucent architectural envelope that collects solar energy through integrated photovoltaic panels, and demonstrates the use of embedded light as an element of architecture itself.

“Cellophane House perfectly demonstrates the future direction of lighting; freed from the limitations posed by typical fixture size, shape and heat emission. With LED sources, we were able to create luminous surfaces that emphasize the house’s translucency and architectural features in various intensities and colors,” said Brian Stacy of Arup Lighting. “Most importantly, we were able to achieve the desired effect in a sustainable and energy-efficient way.”

The structure’s entire LED lighting installation consumes just 1.3 watts of energy per square foot, compared with the average house of about 1.7 to 2.3 watts per square foot, including plug loads for the average house.

“The opportunity to replace conventional sources with energy-efficient LED lighting continues to grow, yet just as exciting is the potential to encourage completely new methods of lighting,” said Jeff Cassis, CEO, Philips Color Kinetics. “Today we offer simple solutions with familiar form and function to help advance adoption of solid-state lighting. But as demonstrated by Cellophane House, LED systems accommodate a far wider range of applications that allow us to rethink the way spaces are illuminated.”

Unique applications of Philips’ LED lighting at Cellophane House include:

— Uplighting the translucent floors with eW(R) Cove Powercore to create luminous planes

— Creating a glowing staircase by embedding eW Cove Powercore in the stair treads

— The use of eW MR lamps in place of conventional sources commonly used for recessed downlighting

— Uplighting the roof deck canopy with ColorBlast(R) 12 to bring dynamic color and a visual counterpoint to the house

Said Stacy, “In a typical house, all wiring and mechanical systems are hidden behind dry wall — an impossibility in a house made of transparent and translucent materials. Because LED systems are compact and free of heat emission, they can be concealed in tight spaces where conventional lights are impractical. Further, with the ability to connect up to 100 units on a single circuit, the task of circuiting is a breeze, and does not require hidden transformers.”

“Our mission is to create a design with a significantly reduced carbon footprint, and LED technology helps us achieve that goal,” says David Riz, Principal, KieranTimberlake Associates.

Philips sees LED technology as the future of energy-efficient lighting; today for many commercial uses and increasingly for residential applications as well. Performance trends suggest that LEDs have the ability to become predominant light sources, given their longer life, durability, non-toxic materials, lack of radiated heat and UV, and flexibility to accommodate wide-ranging fixtures and form factors. Moreover, as inherently digital devices, LEDs produce light that can be intelligently controlled to dynamically customize environments, from restaurants and casinos to retail shops, homes and even automobiles.

Additional information about Home Delivery is available at http://www.momahomedelivery.org/ .

  Digital images are available upon request.

  About Philips Color Kinetics

Philips Color Kinetics transforms environments through dynamic and more efficient uses of light. Its award-winning lighting systems and technologies apply the benefits of LEDs as a highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly, and inherently digital source of illumination — reinventing light itself as a highly controllable medium. Headquartered in Burlington, MA, USA, Philips Color Kinetics is the leading center of innovation and product development for Philips’ global LED lighting systems business. The organization also enables widespread adoption of LED lighting through OEM partnerships in diverse markets. More information is available at http://www.colorkinetics.com/ .

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE:PHG)(NYSE:AEX:)(NYSE:PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 133,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of US$42 billion (EUR 27 billion) in 2007, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter.

ColorBlast, Color Kinetics, and eW are registered trademark of Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

Source: Philips Color Kinetics
Web site:  http://www.colorkinetics.com/

July 15, 2008

The latest in energy-efficient lighting

I love the idea of energy-efficient lighting. Went all compact fluorescent a couple of years ago, and haven’t looked back. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of LED once that tech comes way, way down in price.

(Update 7/28/08 — This update is positioned this high because I wanted to get it above long release. Here’s a link to a Technology Review article on this release’s material.)

On the same vein, here’s a press release from the University of Michigan News Service on the latest technology in efficient lighting:

July 15, 2008

Freeing light shines promise on energy-efficient lighting

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The latest bright idea in energy-efficient lighting for homes and offices uses big science in nano-small packages to dim the future Edison’s light bulb.

In the August issue of Nature Photonics, available online, scientists at the University of Michigan and Princeton University announce a discovery that pushes more appealing white light from organic light-emitting devices.

More white light is the holy grail of the next generation of lighting. The innovation in the paper “Enhanced Light Out-Coupling of Organic Light-Emitting Devices Using Embedded Low-Index Grids” describes a way to deliver significantly more bright light from a watt than incandescent bulbs.

“Our demonstration here shows that OLEDs are a very exciting technology for use in interior illumination,” said Stephen Forrest, U-M professor of electrical engineering and physics and vice president for research. “We hope that white emitting OLEDs will play a major role in the world of energy conservation.”

Forrest and co-author Yuri Sun, visiting U-M from Princeton University, have wrestled with a classic problem in the new generation of lighting called white organic light-emitting devices, or WOLED: Freeing the light generated, but mostly trapped, inside the device.

A lighting primer: Incandescent light bulbs give off light as a by-product of heat, The light is appealing, but inefficient, putting out 15 lumens of light for every watt or electricity.

The best fluorescent tube lights put out some 90 lumens of light per watt, but the light can be harsh, the fixtures are expensive, and the tubes lose their efficiency with age. And they rely on many environmentally unfriendly substances such as mercury.

WOLEDs show promise of providing a light that’s much easier to manipulate, while being long lasting and able to provide in different shapes, from panels to bulbs and more. WOLEDs generate white light by using electricity to send an electron into nanometer thick layers of organic materials that serve as semiconductors. These carbon-based materials are dyes, the ones used in photographic prints and car paint, so they are very inexpensive, and can be put on plastic sheets or metal foils, further reducing costs.

The excited electron in these layers casts bright white light. The bad news, Forrest said, has been that some 60 percent of it is trapped inside the layers, much the way light under water reflects back into the pool, making the water surface seem like a mirror when viewed from underneath.

The Nature Photonics paper describes a tandem system of organic grids and micro lenses that guide the light out of the thin layers and into the air. The grids refract the trapped light, bouncing it into a layer of dome-shaped lenses that then pull the light out.

This process—all of which is packed into a lighting sandwich roughly the thickness of a sheet of paper—was shown to emit approximately 70 lumens from a single watt of power.

More light out means getting more bang for the electricity buck, a crucial question since 22 percent of the U.S. electricity consumption is lighting.

“If you can change the light efficiency by just a few percentage points, there’s a few less coal plants you’ll need,” Forrest said.

Reducing the amount of coal-generated electricity and finding more efficient ways to power appliances and lighting is one of the focuses of U-M’s Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, and the WOLED work is one example of how science can open new doors in conservation, said Gary Was, institute director.

“That energy efficient lighting can be made from the same materials as car paint and that they can be made in such thin, formable sheets boggles the mind,” Was said. “This is one of many exciting creations that research is giving us in the pursuit of energy efficiency. This is also the kind of innovation that is required in the drive for energy sustainability.

Forrest said WOLED work isn’t done yet. The fun part, he said, is that WOLEDs can be framed in different forms.

“Plugging into a wall at low voltage, putting it on a flexible metal foil, or on plastic that won’t break when you drop it,” Forrest said. “This is what makes it so fun because it’s such a unique lighting source.”

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a subcontract from the University of Southern California and by Universal Display Corp.

Forrest is part of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M. He also is on the scientific advisory board of Universal Display Corp.

The next challenge, he said, is to reduce the cost, which currently is too high to be commercially competitive.

“You have to be able to do this dirt cheap, Forrest said. “People don’t spend much for their light bulbs.”



Related Links:

Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute

September 16, 2010

NASA’s LRO finds diversity in the moon’s past

Here’s a release hot from the inbox. (I’m in light blogging mode for the middle of this week due to multiple projects, so I’m taking the easy way out here. Of course presenting the entire release is standard procedure with this blog anyway, so, um, enjoy!)

The release:

NASA’s LRO Exposes Moon’s Complex, Turbulent Youth

GREENBELT, Md., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The moon was bombarded by two distinct populations of asteroids or comets in its youth, and its surface is more complex than previously thought, according to new results from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft featured in three papers appearing in the Sept. 17 issue of Science.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)
(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

In the first paper, lead author James Head of Brown University in Providence, R.I., describes results obtained from a detailed global topographic map of the moon created using LRO’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). “Our new LRO LOLA dataset shows that the older highland impactor population can be clearly distinguished from the younger population in the lunar ‘maria’ — giant impact basins filled with solidified lava flows,” says Head. “The highlands have a greater density of large craters compared to smaller ones, implying that the earlier population of impactors had a proportionally greater number of large fragments than the population that characterized later lunar history.”

Meteorite impacts can radically alter the history of a planet. The moon, Mars, and Mercury all bear scars of ancient craters hundreds or even thousands of miles across. If Earth was subjected to this assault as well — and there’s no reason to assume our planet was spared — these enormous impacts could have disrupted the initial origin of life. Large impacts that occurred later appear to have altered life’s evolution. The approximately 110-mile-diameter, partially buried crater at Chicxulub, in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, is from an impact about 65 million years ago that is now widely believed to have led or contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs and many other life forms.

Scientists trying to reconstruct the meteorite bombardment history of Earth face difficulty because impact craters are eroded by wind and water, or destroyed by the action of plate tectonics, the gradual movement and recycling of the Earth’s crust. However, a rich record of craters is preserved on the moon, because it has only an extremely thin atmosphere — a vacuum better than those typically used for experiments in laboratories on Earth. The moon’s surface has no liquid water and no plate tectonics. The only source of significant erosion is other impacts.

“The moon is thus analogous to a Rosetta stone for understanding the bombardment history of the Earth,” said Head. “Like the Rosetta stone, the lunar record can be used to translate the ‘hieroglyphics’ of the poorly preserved impact record on Earth.”

Even so, previous lunar maps had different resolutions, viewing angles, and lighting conditions, which made it hard to consistently identify and count craters. Head and his team used the LOLA instrument on board LRO to build a map that highlights lunar craters with unprecedented clarity. The instrument sends laser pulses to the lunar surface, measures the time that it takes for them to reflect back to the spacecraft, and then with a very precise knowledge of the orbit of the LRO spacecraft, scientists can convert this information to a detailed topographic map of the moon, according to Head.

Objects hitting the moon can be categorized in different “impactor populations,” where each population has its own set of characteristics. Head also used the LOLA maps to determine the time when the impactor population changed. “Using the crater counts from the different impact basins and examining the populations making up the superposed craters, we can look back in time to discover when this transition in impactor populations occurred. The LRO LOLA impact crater database shows that the transition occurred about the time of the Orientale impact basin, about 3.8 billion years ago. The implication is that this change in populations occurred around the same time as the large impact basins stopped forming, and raises the question of whether or not these factors might be related. The answers to these questions have implications for the earliest history of all the planets in the inner solar system, including Earth,” says Head.

In the other two Science papers, researchers describe how data from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment instrument on LRO are showing that the geologic processes that forged the lunar surface were complex as well. The data have revealed previously unseen compositional differences in the crustal highlands, and have confirmed the presence of anomalously silica-rich material in five distinct regions.

Every mineral, and therefore every rock, absorbs and emits energy with a unique spectral signature that can be measured to reveal its identity and formation mechanisms. For the first time ever, LRO’s Diviner instrument is providing scientists with global, high-resolution infrared maps of the moon, which are enabling them to make a definitive identification of silicate minerals commonly found within its crust. “Diviner is literally viewing the moon in a whole new light,” says Benjamin Greenhagen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., lead author of one of the Diviner Science papers.

Lunar geology can be roughly broken down into two categories – the anorthositic highlands, rich in calcium and aluminium, and the basaltic maria, which are abundant in iron and magnesium. Both of these crustal rocks are what’s deemed by geologists as ‘primitive’; that is, they are the direct result of crystallization from lunar mantle material, the partially molten layer beneath the crust.

Diviner’s observations have confirmed that most lunar terrains have spectral signatures consistent with compositions that fall into these two broad categories. However they have also revealed that the lunar highlands may be less homogenous than previously thought.

In a wide range of terrains, Diviner revealed the presence of lunar soils with compositions more sodium rich than that of the typical anorthosite crust. The widespread nature of these soils reveals that there may have been variations in the chemistry and cooling rate of the magma ocean which formed the early lunar crust, or they could be the result of secondary processing of the early lunar crust.

Most impressively, in several locations around the moon, Diviner has detected the presence of highly silicic minerals such as quartz, potassium-rich, and sodium-rich feldspar — minerals that are only ever found in association with highly evolved lithologies (rocks that have undergone extensive magmatic processing).

The detection of silicic minerals at these locations is a significant finding for scientists, as they occur in areas previously shown to exhibit anomalously high abundances of the element thorium, another proxy for highly evolved lithologies.

“The silicic features we’ve found on the moon are fundamentally different from the more typical basaltic mare and anorthositic highlands,” says Timothy Glotch of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y., lead author of the second Diviner Science paper. “The fact that we see this composition in multiple geologic settings suggests that there may have been multiple processes producing these rocks.”

One thing not apparent in the data is evidence for pristine lunar mantle material, which previous studies have suggested may be exposed at some places on the lunar surface. Such material, rich in iron and magnesium, would be readily detected by Diviner.

However, even in the South Pole Aitken Basin (SPA), the largest, oldest, and deepest impact crater on the moon — deep enough to have penetrated through the crust and into the mantle — there is no evidence of mantle material.

The implications of this are as yet unknown. Perhaps there are no such exposures of mantle material, or maybe they occur in areas too small for Diviner to detect.

However, it’s likely that if the impact that formed this crater did excavate any mantle material, it has since been mixed with crustal material from later impacts inside and outside SPA. “The new Diviner data will help in selecting the appropriate landing sites for potential future robotic missions to return samples from SPA. We want to use these samples to date the SPA-forming impact and potentially study the lunar mantle, so it’s important to use Diviner data to identify areas with minimal mixing,” says Greenhagen.

The research was funded by NASA’s Exploration Systems Missions Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. LRO was built and is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. LOLA was built by NASA Goddard. David E. Smith from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA Goddard is the LOLA principal investigator. The Diviner instrument was built and is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. UCLA is the home institution of Diviner’s principal investigator, David Paige.

For images and more information about LRO, visit:


Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

August 23, 2010

200x fuel cell efficiency boost

The idea of a personalized energy system is very attractive. Talk about being able to go off the grid …

The release:

200-fold boost in fuel cell efficiency advances ‘personalized energy systems’

IMAGE: A new catalyst could help speed development of inexpensive home-brewed solar energy systems for powering homes and plug-in cars during the day (left) and for producing electricity from a fuel…

Click here for more information.

BOSTON, Aug. 23, 2010 — The era of personalized energy systems — in which individual homes and small businesses produce their own energy for heating, cooling and powering cars — took another step toward reality today as scientists reported discovery of a powerful new catalyst that is a key element in such a system. They described the advance, which could help free homes and businesses from dependence on the electric company and the corner gasoline station, at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, being held here this week.

“Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” said study leader Daniel Nocera, Ph.D. “We’re working toward development of ‘personalized’ energy units that can be manufactured, distributed and installed inexpensively. There certainly are major obstacles to be overcome — existing fuel cells and solar cells must be improved, for instance. Nevertheless, one can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic system.”

Such a system would consist of rooftop solar energy panels to produce electricity for heating, cooking, lighting, and to charge the batteries on the homeowners’ electric cars. Surplus electricity would go to an “electrolyzer,” a device that breaks down ordinary water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen. Both would be stored in tanks. In the dark of night, when the solar panels cease production, the system would shift gears, feeding the stored hydrogen and oxygen into a fuel cell that produces electricity (and clean drinking water as a byproduct). Such a system would produce clean electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week — even when the sun isn’t shining.

Nocera’s report focused on the electrolyzer, which needs catalysts — materials that jumpstart chemical reactions like the ones that break water up into hydrogen and oxygen. He is with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. Good catalysts already are available for the part of the electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. Lacking, however, have been inexpensive, long-lasting catalysts for the production of oxygen. The new catalyst fills that gap and boosts oxygen production by 200-fold. It eliminates the need for expensive platinum catalysts and potentially toxic chemicals used in making them.

The new catalyst has been licensed to Sun Catalytix, which envisions developing safe, super-efficient versions of the electrolyzer, suitable for homes and small businesses, within two years.

The National Science Foundation and the Chesonis Family Foundation provided funding for this study. Nocera did the research with post-doctoral researcher Mircea Dinca and doctoral candidate Yogesh Surendranath. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency has recently awarded the team with a grant, which it plans to use to search for related compounds that can further increase the efficiency of its electrolyzer technology. The team hopes that nickel-borate belongs to a family of compounds that can be optimized for super-efficient, long-term energy storage technologies.


The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Update 9/2/10 — Someone really likes this story because here’s a follow-up release from yesterday.

August 21, 2010

Viking I Mars mission 35 years later

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:23 pm

Well, thirty years and a day since I didn’t post this yesterday.

From the link:

Thrust from a Titan 3/Centaur rocket launched NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft on a 505-million-mile journey to Mars on Aug. 20, 1975. Viking 2 followed three weeks later.

This is the first photograph ever taken on the surface of the planet Mars. It was obtained by Viking 1 just minutes after the spacecraft landed successfully.
Here’s another cool image from the link:
This color image of the Martian surface in the Chryse area was taken by Viking Lander 1, looking southwest, about 15 minutes before sunset on the evening of August 21. The sun is at an elevation angle of 3 or 4 degrees above the horizon and about 50 degrees clockwise from the right edge of the frame. Local topographic features are accentuated by the low lighting angle. A depression is seen near the center of the picture, just above the Lander’s leg support structure, which was not evident in previous pictures taken at higher sun angles. Just beyond the depression are large rocks about 30 centimeters (1 foot) across. The diffuse shadows are due to the sunlight that has been scattered by the dusty Martian atmosphere as a result of the long path length from the setting sun. Toward the horizon, several bright patches of bare bedrock are revealed. Image: NASA/JPL

August 9, 2010

A meeting of the photonic minds

Experts from three major photonic fields — solar photovoltaics, infrared (IR) photovoltaics and light emitting diode (LED) — met at the 2010 International Symposium on Optoelectronic Materials and Devices held on July 12 and 13, 2010, in Chicago. The conference was put together by the Quantum-functional Semiconductor Research Center of Dongguk University, the Microphysics Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Sivananthan Laboratories Inc. The symposium gave photonics leaders the opportunity to get together and discuss the current and future state of the industry and its materials and devices.

About the conference, Dr. Chris Grein, Professor of Physics and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said, “The fields of solar and infrared photovoltaics and light emitting diodes have many common technical elements yet few conferences bring together experts from all three. One of the goals of the symposium was to facilitate the cross-pollination of many ideas that will benefit these technologies.”

The entire photonic space is rapidly evolving and conferences that put the different disciplines together can spur innovation from unseen sources. A material that imrpoves LED lighting could possibly improve solar cells, or a production technique lowering the cost of solar photovoltaics might also be applicable to IR photovoltaics. Another benefit of this meeting is it puts industry leaders, top researchers, students and other members of this business sector together in one place for a couple of days to speculate and share ideas.

Symposium topics included:

  • thin film solar cells
  • very high efficiency tandem solar cells
  • heteroepitaxial growth
  • antimonide- and HgCdTe-based infrared sensors
  • ZnO nanorods
  • The featured speakers were Dr. Martha Symko Davies of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Mr. Minh Le of the Solar Energy Technologies Program at the U.S. Department of Energy. This year’s conference was seventh in an ongoing series

    May 20, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — Shane Pennington

    This post is the sixth in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    Shane is a contemporary artist in Dallas, Texas.  He has exhibited his work internationally in Sydney, Australia at the Paddington Contemporary Gallery and domestically at Gallery Works in Aspen, Colorado, HCG Gallery in Dallas, and his own SP Studio in Dallas, Texas.

    How did you get involved with the RAPID Artists project?

    I met Nancy Hairston at one of my art exhibits.  She liked my work and asked me to participate in the SculptCAD RAPID Artists Project.

    Is this your first experience with 3D/digital sculpting technology and tools?


    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?

    The technology has expanded my creative process because it has given me immediate access to materials and design in a virtual world.   Such an expansive library of options has expanded my thought process as well.  Many of the functions in the software allow you to create structures and shapes that would not be easy to create on a standard project.

    Are these digital tools having an effect on the work you are creating? Are the tools aiding/adding to/hindering the process?

    I have had a positive experience using the digital tools.  I did not know what to expect but as I became more familiar with the software, I was also becoming more cognizant of what tools and options I had at my fingertips.  The possibilities seem limitless.

    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    I think it was an amazing project and experience.  I plan on using this technology more in my work now and in the future.

    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows or projects planned?

    I have site specific installations scheduled in Toronto, Montana, and Sydney.  I also have two upcoming shows in June and July in Dallas.

    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?

    Website: www.shanepennington.com

    email: bluesky00@airmail.net

    phone: 214 564 6980

    Do you have any final thoughts on the Rapid Artists Project?

    Way to go!! Thanks to all that were involved and made this possible.  Special thanks to the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Louisville and Forecast 3D for the printing of the SLA resin sculpture pieces. And a big thank you to Nancy Hairston and Kevin Atkins at SculptCAD for all their support within the project! … it has opened up an entire new creative realm and medium for turning ideas into art.

    Here’s the digital model of Shane’s SculptCAD Rapid Artist piece:

    "Darwin's Theory" by Shane Pennington, digital model

    Specifications on “Darwin’s Theory” and a statement on the piece from Shane:

    Darwin’s Theory,  H 40 in x W 36 in x L 30 in, 2010, Artist: Shane Pennington
    I am creating a tree and roots out of SLA White Resin to comment about the environment and the scarcity of natural rescues.  The top of the piece will be stylized cartoonish in nature and the roots will be a combination of real tree roots and synthetic roots.  Trees are the metaphor of this idea in this piece and the possibility of our need to synthetically recreate them in the future.

    Head below the fold for more of Shane’s work. (more…)

    May 12, 2010

    Semi-conductor nanocrystals and quantum computing

    Another step toward quantum computing.

    The release:

    Quantum move toward next generation computing

    McGill researchers make important contribution to the development of quantum computing

    This release is available in French.

    IMAGE: These images show the electrostatic energy given off when electrons are added to a quantum dot. They were made with an atomic-force microscope.

    Click here for more information.

    Physicists at McGill University have developed a system for measuring the energy involved in adding electrons to semi-conductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots – a technology that may revolutionize computing and other areas of science. Dr. Peter Grütter, McGill’s Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Faculty of Science, explains that his research team has developed a cantilever force sensor that enables individual electrons to be removed and added to a quantum dot and the energy involved in the operation to be measured.

    Being able to measure the energy at such infinitesimal levels is an important step in being able to develop an eventual replacement for the silicon chip in computers – the next generation of computing. Computers currently work with processors that contain transistors that are either in an on or off position – conductors and semi-conductors – while quantum computing would allow processors to work with multiple states, vastly increasing their speed while reducing their size even more.

    Although popularly used to connote something very large, the word “quantum” itself actually means the smallest amount by which certain physical quantities can change. Knowledge of these energy levels enables scientists to understand and predict the electronic properties of the nanoscale systems they are developing.

    “We are determining optical and electronic transport properties,” Grütter said. “This is essential for the development of components that might replace silicon chips in current computers.”

    IMAGE: These images show the electrostatic energy given off when electrons are added to a quantum dot. They were made with an atomic-force microscope.

    Click here for more information.

    The electronic principles of nanosystems also determine their chemical properties, so the team’s research is relevant to making chemical processes “greener” and more energy efficient. For example, this technology could be applied to lighting systems, by using nanoparticles to improving their energy efficiency. “We expect this method to have many important applications in fundamental as well as applied research,” said Lynda Cockins of McGill’s Department of Physics.

    The principle of the cantilever sensors sounds relatively simple. “The cantilever is about 0.5 mm in size (about the thickness of a thumbnail) and is essentially a simple driven, damped harmonic oscillator, mathematically equivalent to a child’s swing being pushed,” Grütter explained. “The signal we measure is the damping of the cantilever, the equivalent to how hard I have to push the kid on the swing so that she maintains a constant height, or what I would call the ‘oscillation amplitude.’ ”

    Dr. Aashish Clerk, Yoichi Miyahara, and Steven D. Bennett of McGill’s Dept. of Physics, and scientists at the Institute for Microstructural Sciences of the National Research Council of Canada contributed to this research, which was published online late yesterday afternoon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, le Fonds Québécois de le Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies, the Carl Reinhardt Fellowship, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


    May 6, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — Mark Grote

    This post is the fifth in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    Mark has been teaching at Loyola University for over thirty years as a full professor and he is a graduate of Washington University St. Louis. Mark has exhibited both nationally and internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including Fulbright, Pollock Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Artist and Scholars at the American Academy of Rome.

    How did you get involved with the RAPID Artists project?
    Nancy Hairston is one of my past students.
    Is this your first experience with 3D/digital sculpting technology and tools?
    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?
    It has opened up many possibilities for producing works or parts of work in mass.
    Are these digital tools having an effect on the work you are creating? Are the tools aiding/adding to/hindering the process?
    I believe they will have a very positive effect on my future work.
    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?
    It has been a very well organized project and has offered all the artist a lots of information, feed back from other artist. Opened up new possibilities of how one thinks about and how one can make work. I hope they do another one next year and I can participate. Now that I know more I want to use that information.
    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows or projects planned?
    Project pending at Kohler artist in residence program.
    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?
    Here is Mark’s Rapid Artist concept and statement:
    Statement The war on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has now been going on for over nine years. The attackers used box cutters to takeover the four planes. Today we have only one thing we can look at to see our successes. And that is many of the Afghan people have been able to vote. However even that has much to be desired. Scan my finger and construct 234 fingers out of rubber. Dip each in blue ink and attach the box knife.
    Head below the fold for more images of Mark’s work. (more…)

    April 6, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — Brad Ford Smith

    This post is the fourth in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas-based artist and a third generation Texan. His abstract organic forms focus on how the eye and mind translate information, and how that visual experience can be altered by the passing of time. Brad’s works on paper and wall sculptures have been exhibited throughout Dallas and Chicago, where he resided shortly after earning his BFA in painting and printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute.

    In addition to making art, Brad is a professional member of the American Institute of Conservation. He specializes in the restoration of wooden artifacts.

    How did you get involved with the RAPID Artists project?

    Heather Gorham (ed. note: also a RAPID Artists project participant) introduced me to the folks at SculptCAD about eight years ago. I instantly saw how this 3D modeling program could open up a new world of fabrication options. It has been on my list of must do ever since.

    Is this your first experience with 3D/digital sculpting technology and tools?

    Other than that first introduction eight years ago, I have kept tabs on the subject, but this is the first time for me to use/learn the program.

    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?

    The challenge is learning how to use the tools, and then using those tools to create in an artistic manner. With each new tool there is the temptation to get carried away with all the new things that that tool offers. For example, the spin tool will take any wiggly profile and spin it on an axis to create a solid form. I played with this tool for an hour or so, creating some really wonderful shapes, but in the end, those shapes were only about using the tool and not about artistic expression. Managing the WOW factor has been tricky.

    Are these digital tools a net positive, a net negative or entirely neutral in your artistic process?

    I really love learning new processes. They always offer new ways to see and manipulate the world. The only negative is that this sculpture represents the FIRST work of art that I have made using this process, therefore it represents a large learning curve. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to use this technology in the future.

    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    When Nancy (Hairston, SculptCAD founder) asked me to be part of this project, and I saw the list of artists involved, I was very excited and honored. Even though the artists in the SCRA project come from a wide range of artistic directions and disciplines, we are all connected by using/learning this technology. That has given us a common thread to build our conversations upon, which has lead to some great insight on the creative process.

    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows or projects planned?

    As soon as I get my 3D computer sculpture sent off to the printer, I am off to Italy to spend some quality time looking at sculptures made the old fashion way. After that I will be creating a book of my drawings using the iPhoto book program, and then looking for a venue to install a few wall sculptures in.

    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?

    You can see more of my artwork as well as links to my blog and flicker site at www.BradFordSmith.us

    Do you have any final thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    After seeing the first round of sculptures come back from the printers last week, I am really excited about how all the artwork will look when shown together. I am also very interested in the reactions of the people who will see this group exhibit at the RAPID Prototype and 3D Imaging Conference this May.

    April 2, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — David W Van Ness

    This post is the third in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    David W Van Ness is a Richardson, Texas-based artist and is a sculptor/educator whose work deals primarily with a surreal world developing after the fall of a civilization. David’s civilization, unlike ours, can manipulate nature to their whim. He’s the son of a very successful mathematician and was obsessed with myth, monsters, and science fiction as a child.

    How did you get involved with the RAPID Artists project?

    Since 2006 I have been working with SculptCAD on and off on several different projects. Nancy (Hairston, SculptCAD founder) came to me early and asked about people I thought she should include.  Though none of my suggestions were included, I was.

    Is this your first experience with 3D/digital sculpting technology and tools?

    No, SculptCAD first did work for me on my stacking cow project in 2006.

    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?

    The ability to test a design out and change it without much demand has been nice, but also a problem when the computer crashes amid working.  Just means I do the work again but this time more direct and succinct.

    Are these digital tools having an effect on the work you are creating? Are the tools aiding/adding to/hindering the process?

    Not really. I have been able to realize a project that I was working out in my head. I did have a little learning curve but now I think of them just like any tool.

    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    It has been fun and interesting to see the other artists’ creations. I have been thinking about computer aided design for a long time and see now that I was rather limited in my vision

    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows or projects planned?

    I am giving a lecture at the conference and at Boise State University on this subject. I have yet to build much work this year beyond the RapidArtist piece. I did have one show earlier this year at Mary Thomas Gallery. I am working on new work for a show there as well. My galleries in Santa Fe and Denver are more salon type and don’t have “shows.”

    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?


    vanness.dave (at) gmail.com

    Do you have any final thoughts on the Rapid Artists Project?

    I hope we can reproduce this experience again, with more and different artists I know this means that I might not be able to participate next time, but I think it would be interesting to see what develops

    March 18, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — Heather Gorham

    This post is the second in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    Heather Gorham is a Dallas-based artist represented by the Craighead Green Gallery and shows her work across the United States. Unlike many of the project participants, Heather has previous experience with the haptics device and 3D technologies although this is her first use of those technologies in artwork.

    How did you get involved with the RAPID Artists project?

    I’ve known Nancy Hairston (project founder) and worked with Sculptcad for several years now. When she first had the idea for fine artists to create work using digital sculpting and asked me if I’d like to participate, I jumped at the chance.

    Is this your first experience with 3D/digital sculpting technology and tools?

    I have been working with 3D digital sculpting for several years now with Sculptcad, working on all sorts of different projects. This is my first real experience with creating my own vision using digital technology.

    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?

    Surprisingly, not so much. Despite the high tech nature I’m approaching this work much like I would in a more traditional medium. For me, it has become another tool in my toolbox. Albeit, a really, really cool one.

    Are these digital tools having an effect on the work you are creating? Are the tools aiding/adding to/hindering the process?

    So far, working digitally has mostly positive qualities. I think the only frustrating thing is the inability to actually touch, with your own hands, what you are creating. Feeling for imperfections or the perfect curve, getting that tactile feedback from your work.

    The positives are the ability to try out different ideas and possibilities with a piece without having to permanently commit. You can test drive so many different ways to solve a problem and see all of your possible outcomes first.

    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    I love the SRCA project, after working on projects other than my own, getting to create my own work digitally has been a real pleasure. I can feel that my own relationship to this process has grown and become more personal through working on my own art.  I’ve really embraced it.

    Also, seeing other artists being introduced to this whole process and their excitement about it and what they can create. Their excitement has been contagious.

    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows or projects planned?

    I’m working on a large scale installation piece with about 150 rats, should be fun.

    I always have work at the Craighead Green Gallery (in Dallas) with a big group show coming up on March 27th.

    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?

    You can see more work or contact me at HeatherGorham.com.

    Do you have any final thoughts on the Rapid Artists Project?

    Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

    Here is Heather’s prelimary sketch for the project piece:

    Technical Specs My piece will be created combining stainless steel and bronze alloy for the body of the hare with the possibility of using a separate material, resin for the exposed internal bone structure. The size is approximately 25” x 15” x 12”.

    Statement I wanted to use animal imagery for my sculpture, for me it was a way to insure the relatability of my work while using the digital process. I chose the hare because of the old world, romantic idea of beauty and nature it represents, juxtaposed with this new world, digital way of creation. I’m challenged by the innate sense of conflict this presents. The rabbit’s coat is intertwined and layered with sculptural shapes and text creating an extra layer of narrative within the animal’s fur. I’ve created negative cutouts around the body allowing the viewer to see some of the animal’s internal workings. This study of contrasts, old vs. new, metal to fur, nature and technology, exterior and interior are some of the paradoxes most enticing to me in creating this work.

    Head below the fold for images of Heather’s digital work in process: (more…)

    March 11, 2010

    SculptCAD Rapid Artist — Heather Ezell

    This post is the first in an ongoing series highlighting the artists behind the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project. (Hit this link for all posts related to the project.)

    Heather Ezell is a Dallas-based marble sculptor working out of an Oak Cliff studio and was asked to join the project by project founder and Rapid Artist Nancy Hairston. This project is Heather’s first hands-on experience with 3D/digital technology and tools.

    How have these technologies changed the way you approach your process?

    My process has been altered by the opportunities the technology offers. It’s given me a chance to think of new ways to create a piece that has an outcome I would not normally or so easily be able to manifest.

    Are these digital tools having an effect on the work you are creating? Are the tools aiding/adding to/hindering the process?

    The learning curve is, well, stimulating. However once I settled in I found it to be simply another medium. I found I was seeking that sweet spot in much the same way I do with an air hammer/chisel. And as with learning anything new it brings with it equal amounts of frustration and joy. The only negative is that one of the things I love about carving marble is physical freedom and working out doors.

    What are your thoughts on the SculptCAD Rapid Artists Project?

    I’m thankful for the opportunity to be on the ground floor exploration of the application of these technologies toward a work of art. I also have enjoyed meeting and working with the other participating artists. I’m excited to see the finished pieces all in one room and to get feedback from the people experiencing both the LA and Dallas shows.

    Looking beyond the project, what do you have coming up in the near future art-wise? Do you have any shows planned or projects planned?

    I am currently looking for new studio space to create a large piece which will take at least a year to complete. Stay tuned!

    How can people interested in your work get in touch with you?

    website~ http://ezellsculpture.com/
    email~ heather@ezellsculpture.com
    twitter~ twitter.com/ezellsculpture

    Any final thoughts on the Rapid Artists Project?

    Looking forward to the next one!

    Here is Heather’s preliminary sketch for the project piece:

    Technical Specs My piece will utilize metal with a shiny surface to illustrate “newness”. The size is approximately 24” x 16” x 20”.

    Statement A “pile of leaves” representing the collection of new leaves turned over in a lifetime. Entitled “A New Leaf”, much like this new creative process/medium called FreeForm, it is a revolution within oneself; bringing to the light unseen sides of ourselves while turning attention away from worn paths. How many leaves have we gathered? One for every turn of the calendar? One for each shiny relationship? And no matter the form each is certainly more beautiful than the last. Were all in a pile would we prefer simply to run, jump and land with a giggle amidst our changes? And in doing so recalling the thrill and awe of the moment we first discovered ourselves; beautiful and ever changing.

    March 2, 2010

    Cool nanotech image — cadmium sulfide semiconducting laser

    This image is part of the series linked in the previous post on the laser turning 50, but it deserves highlighting as a very cool nanotechnology image.

    Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have created the smallest semiconducting laser, which could eventually be used for optical computing. A cadmium sulfide wire 50 nanometers in diameter generates visible light and holds it in a five-nanometer space.

    Credit: Xiang Zhang Lab/UC Berkeley

    February 23, 2010

    Point-and-click botnet creation kit

    Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:50 pm

    Just the thing for the technically challenged wanna-be cybercriminal. It’s bad enough having to deal with nefarious coders, but these tools (and various “virus making for dummies” tools have been around forever) allow bored kids and garden variety criminals in on the lucrative world of botnets.

    From the link:

    In 2005, a Russian hacker group known as UpLevel developed Zeus, a point-and-click program for creating and controlling a network of compromised computer systems, also known as a botnet. Five years of development later, the latest version of this software, which can be downloaded for free and requires very little technical skill to operate, is one of the most popular botnet platforms for spammers, fraudsters, and people who deal in stolen personal information.

    Last week, the security firm NetWitness, based in Herndon, VA, released a report highlighting the kind of havoc the software can wreak. It documents a Zeus botnet that controlled nearly 75,000 computers in more than 2,400 organizations, including the drug producer Merck, the network equipment maker Juniper Networks, and the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures. Over four weeks, the software was used to steal more than 68,000 log-in credentials, including thousands of Facebook log-ins and Yahoo e-mail log-ins.

    “They had compromised systems inside both companies and government agencies,” says Alex Cox, a principal analyst at NetWitness.

    A survey conducted by another security firm–Atlanta-based Damballa–found Zeus-controlled programs to be the second most common inside corporate networks in 2009. Damballa tracked more than 200 Zeus-based botnets in enterprise networks. The largest single botnet controlled using the Zeus platform consisted of 600,000 compromised computers.

    February 11, 2010

    IBM comes up with solar breakthrough

    Filed under: Business, Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:49 am

    There’s been a lot of solar energy news to blog about lately. Nestled in this spate of announcements is a breakthrough at IBM — solar cells created from abundant materials, well a higher proportion of abundant elements, than previous cells. The practical result? Cheaper to produce cells that don’t lose anything in the efficiency department, and cost and efficiency are the two issues that will determine when solar power becomes a viable alternative energy source.

    From the second link:

    Researchers at IBM have increased the efficiency of a novel type of solar cell made largely from cheap and abundant materials by over 40 percent. According to an article published this week in the journal Advanced Materials, the new efficiency is 9.6 percent, up from the previous record of 6.7 percent for this type of solar cell, and near the level needed for commercial solar panels. The IBM solar cells also have the advantage of being made with an inexpensive ink-based process.

    The new solar cells convert light into electricity using a semiconductor material made of copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur–all abundant elements–as well as the relatively rare element selenium (CZTS). Reaching near-commercial efficiency levels is a “breakthrough for this technology,” says Matthew Beard, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who was not involved with the work.

    Copper power: This prototype solar cell uses a copper-based material and has achieved record efficiencies for a cell of its kind.

    Credit: IBM Research

    Update — head below the fold for IBM’s release on the new solar cell. (more…)

    November 13, 2009

    Low-cost small business and residential security

    Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:10 pm

    An interesting product from Schlage. And more options coming soon from Black & Decker.

    From the link:

    Schlage LiNK consists of video cameras, remote-control dead bolts, lighting-control systems and remote monitors. Pricing starts at $299 for a dead bolt. A wireless camera runs $179. Light controllers cost $49. All are designed for easy installation.

    “They require only a screwdriver,” boasts Steven Samolinski, solution manager for Schlage.

    October 13, 2009

    Storage Networking Industry Association in the cloud

    Cloud computing is moving beyond buzzword status and entering the realm of the wide-release meme. You’re going to hear “cloud” all over the place, and get hit with cloud computing opinions from people who effectively have no clue what they’re talking about.

    Projects like these should help quantify and define this tech movement.

    From the link:

    The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced today the formation of the Cloud Storage Initiative (CSI) in order to establish a lexicon of cloud-computing terminology, publish use cases, white papers and technical specifications, and to create reference implementation models for grid-storage architectures.

    The CSI will coordinate and deliver educational materials for cloud storage vendors and user communities. The organization also plans to perform market outreach highlighting the virtues of cloud storage. The group is developing a single specification as part of its efforts. The Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) will be an application programming interface to which vendors can write management software that will allow interoperability between heterogeneous cloud storage offerings, according to Wayne Adams, SNIA’s chairman emeritus. The SNIA made the announcement at the Storage Networking World conference, which is co-sponsored by Computerworld .

    August 21, 2009

    New process lowers cost of LEDs

    A lot of work has been done in the world of LEDs as a viable, cost-effective lighting source — particularly with OLEDs — and here’s some interesting news on inorganic LEDs and a new technique to help bring manufacuturing costs down for that lighting tech.

    From the second link:

    A new technique makes it possible to print flexible arrays of thin inorganic light-emitting diodes for displays and lighting. The new printing process is a hybrid between the methods currently used to make inorganic and organic LEDs, and it brings some of the advantages of each, combining the flexibility, thinness and ease of manufacturing organic polymers with the brightness and long-term stability of inorganic compounds. It could be used to make high-quality flexible displays and less expensive LED lighting systems.

    Inorganic LEDs are bright and long lasting, but the expense of manufacturing them has led to them being used mainly in niche applications such as billboard-size displays for sports arenas. What’s more, the manufacturing process for making inorganic LED displays is complex, because each LED must be individually cut and placed, says John Rogers, a materials science professor in the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. So display manufacturers have turned to organic materials, which can be printed and are cheaper. While LED-based lighting systems are attractive because of their low energy consumption, they remain expensive. The new printing process, developed by Rogers and described today in the journal Science, could bring down the cost of inorganic LEDs because it would require less material and simpler manufacturing techniques.

    July 23, 2009

    Nanophotonics market may reach $40B in five years

    A release from the inbox:

    Global Nanophotonic Market Worth US$37.6 Billion by 2014

    WILMINGTON, Delaware, July 23/PRNewswire/ —     According to a new market research report, ‘Nanophotonics – Advanced
    Technologies and Global Market (2009-2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets
    (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com), the global nanophotonics market is
    expected to be worth US$3.6 billion by 2014, out of which the Asian market
    will account for nearly 74% of the total revenues. The global market is
    expected to record a CAGR of 100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

        Browse 134 market data tables and in-depth TOC on nanophotonics market.
    Early buyers will receive 10% customization of reports

        (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
     to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
    field. Remove the space if one exists.)

        Nanophotonics (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/
    nanophotonics-advanced-technologies-and-global-market-125.html) is born out
    of the combination of three major sciences:photonics, nanotechnology,
    and optoelectronics. While photonics and optoelectronics have revolutionized
    the electronics and semiconductors market, nanotechnology has the greatest
    potential for further improvement, and hence has emerged as the most
    sought-after technology by big companies and research laboratories. In spite
    of it being in the nascent stage, nanophotonics is expected to make it to
    the mainstream market owing to the higher power efficiency, thermal
    resistivity, and operational life.

        (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
     to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
    field. Remove the space if one exists.)

        The nanophotonic component market is growing at a robust rate for the
    last few years and is expected to maintain a very high CAGR for the next few
    years. The market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion in 2014 at a CAGR of
    100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

        Asia holds a major share of the global nanophotonics market. However, the
    U.S. and Europe represent very high growth rate of 161.1% and 160.0%,
    respectively, from 2009 to 2014. The U.S. and Europe assume further
    importance because of the large consumer base for the nanophotonic devices.
    Extensive investment in research and development for the application of
    nanophotonics in increasing number of application areas has become the main
    driver for this market

        The LED market is the largest segment; and is expected to reach US$2.7
    billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 91.3%. Optical amplifier and holographic memory
    device markets are estimated to record growth rate of 239% and 234.6%
    respectively from 2009 to 2014. The high growth rate of nanophotonics
    products is mainly due to high demand from Asian countries.

        The Asian market is the largest geographical segment; and is expected to
    be worth US$2.7 billion by 2014. The second largest segment is Europe, with a
    CAGR of 160.0%. However, market size of the U.S. is expected to increase at
    the highest CAGR of 161.1% from the year 2009 to 2014.

        The report is titled ‘Nanophotonics- Advanced Technologies and Global
    Market (2009 – 2014)’ and was published in June 2009.

        Scope of the Report

        This report aims to identify and analyze products, applications and
    ingredients for nanophotonics market. The report segments the nanophotonics
    product market as follows:

        Nanophotonics components – products

        Nanophotonic LED, nanophotonic OLED, nanophotonic near field optics,
    nanophotonic photovoltaic cells, nanophotonic optical amplifiers,
    nanophotonic optical switches and nanophotonic holographic data storage

        Nanophotonics – applications
        Indicators and signs, lighting, non-visual applications,
    telecommunications, entertainment and consumer electronics

        Nanophotonics – ingredients

    Photonic crystals, plasmonics, nanotubes, nanoribbons and quantum dots.

        About MarketsandMarkets

        MarketsandMarkets is a research and consulting firm that publishes 120
    market research (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/) reports per year. Each
    strategically analyzed report contains 250 pages of valuable market data,
    including more than 100 market data summary tables and in-depth, five-level
    segmentation for each of the products, services, applications, technologies,
    ingredients and stakeholders categories. Our reports also analyze about 200
    patents, over 50 companies and micro markets that are mutually exclusive and
    collectively exhaustive. Browse all our 120 titles at

    Source: MarketsandMarkets

    OLEDs hit the market …

    Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:37 pm

    … at $100 per square inch for prototypes. Ouch.

    From the link:

    Someday, our ceilings and walls might radiate light, illuminating indoor spaces as brightly and evenly as natural daylight.

    Though that possibility remains years off, the Dutch electronics company Philips is letting people tinker with the technology that would enable it.

    The world’s biggest lighting maker has begun selling do-it-yourself kits with little glowing wafers called “Lumiblades.” They come in red, white, blue or green for anyone who wants to pay nearly $100 per square inch.

    It’s one of the first chances people outside research labs have had to get their hands on lights made from organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

    The company’s aim is to get designers, architects and other creative types thinking about how these flat lights can be used, and to start collaborating on early products.

    Head here for more blog posts on OLEDs.

    July 3, 2009

    Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera sending images

    Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:08 am

    NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera is sending back it’s first images from the lunar exploration. It should be both interesting and cool to see what comes in as the mission really kicks into gear.

    The release:

    New focus on the moon

    Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera releases its first images of the moon

    IMAGE: This Locator Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera’s Narrow Angle Camera image shows the position of the first two images. This image is 253×1000 pixels or 3,542 meters (2.2 miles) wide by…

    Click here for more information. 

    TEMPE, Ariz. – NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) has taken and received its first images of the Moon, kicking off the year-long mapping mission of Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor. The LROC imaging system, under the watchful eyes of Arizona State University professor Mark Robison, the principal investigator, consists of two Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) to provide high-resolution black-and-white images, a Wide Angle Camera (WAC) to provide images in seven color bands over a 60-kilometer (37.28-mile) swath, and a Sequence and Compressor System (SCS) supporting data acquisition for both cameras.

    NASA reports that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched June 18, is performing exceptionally well and spacecraft checkout is proceeding smoothly, so smoothly in fact that LROC was given an early, but short (two orbits) opportunity Tuesday evening to measure temperatures and background values while imaging. Since LRO is in a terminator orbit, much of the area photographed was in shadows, which is actually a good situation for performing engineering checks of camera settings, according to Robinson, with ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. Much to the delight of the LROC team, a few of the images captured dramatic views of the surface.

    “Our first images were taken along the Moon’s terminator – the dividing line between day and night – making us initially unsure of how they would turn out,” says Robinson. “Because of the deep shadowing, subtle topography is exaggerated suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface. In reality, the area is similar to the region where the Apollo 16 astronauts comfortably explored in 1972. Though these images are magnificent in their own right, the main message is that LROC is nearly ready to begin its mission.”

    LROC NAC: Two details from one of the first images

    LRO was 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) above the lunar surface when the summed mode image was taken, resulting in a resolution of approximately 1.4-meters/pixel (34.4°S, 6.0°W). Incredible levels of detail are visible in these two (1000 pixel-by-1000 pixel) cutouts from the full image (2532 pixels-by-53,248 pixels). The NAC data shown has not been calibrated, and the pixel values were stretched to enhance contrast.

    Along the terminator, there simply is not much light – the instrument is “photon-starved,” resulting in suboptimal signal-to-noise ratios. Without summing, images taken in this circumstance would be underexposed. To compensate for low light levels, the pixels can effectively be made larger by summing adjacent pixels to increase the signal-to-noise ratio, making the image sharper, though with 2x lower resolution. At this resolution, features as small as three meters (9.8 feet) wide can be discerned.

    The NAC image shows a starkly beautiful region a few kilometers east of Hell E crater, which is located on the floor of the ancient Imbrian-aged Deslandres impact structure in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium. Numerous small, secondary craters can be identified, including several small crater chains. Also identifiable are distinctive lineations made readily apparent by the extreme lighting, representing ejecta from a nearby impact. The quality of these early engineering test images gives the LROC science team confidence it can achieve its primary goals, including obtaining the data needed to support future human lunar exploration and utilization.

    IMAGE: This full resolution detail is from one of the first images taken by a Narrow Angle Camera, part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera imaging system. At this scale and…

    Click here for more information. 

    Once LRO finishes commissioning operations and enters its 50-kilometer x 50-kilometer (31 miles x 31 miles) mapping orbit, a maneuver currently scheduled for mid-August, the LROC NAC will take images of over 8 percent of the Moon at 50-cm/pixel.

    LROC WAC: Seeing the colors of the Moon

    The LROC WAC represents a very different type of imaging system than the NAC. The WAC sees the surface in seven colors, one after the other. Looking at the raw image is akin to looking through venetian blinds, which is a little confusing at first.

    First you notice the five stair step-like visible bands, and then the two lower-resolution and barely visible ultraviolet bands. During processing, these seven bands are pulled apart and seven single-filter mosaics are created that can be combined in various combinations for scientific analysis.

    IMAGE: This full resolution detail is from one of the first images taken by a Narrow Angle Camera, part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera imaging system. Visible are distinctive trending…

    Click here for more information. 

    The WAC is designed to help place the super-high-resolution NAC images into their proper geologic context, as well as discriminate color units on the surface to help geologists map rock types and identify resources. Acquired at the same time as the NAC image, more of the Deslandres region is visible because the WAC has a field of view 20 times wider than the NAC though with substantially lower resolution. For comparison, the width of the NAC image is shown as two vertical bars in the center of the image. The WAC image shown here has not been calibrated and the pixel values were stretched to enhance contrast.

    LROC is scheduled for activation July 3 to formally begin its commissioning activities. The LROC Science Operations Center, part of the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on ASU’s Tempe campus plans to steadily release images of the lunar frontier as more data is collected and processed.

    LRO will spend the next year gathering crucial data on the lunar environment that will help astronauts prepare for exploring the Moon and eventually leaving the Earth-Moon system for voyages to Mars and beyond.


     The public can view LROC images online at http://www.nasa.gov/lro.

    Additional information about the LROC instrument is at http://lroc.sese.asu.edu.

    June 18, 2009

    Cheaper OLEDs

    I haven’t had an opportunity to blog about OLEDs in a while, but this looks like a real cost breakthrough. OLEDs have the potential to revolutionize lighting and display technology.

    From the link:

    Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are steadily making their way into commercial devices like cell phones and flat-screen displays. They’re fabricated with layers of organic polymers, which make them flexible, and they use less power and less expensive materials than liquid crystal displays.

    The downside is that because the polymers react easily with oxygen and water, OLEDs are expensive to produce–they have to be created in high-vacuum chambers–and they need extra protective packaging layers to make sure that once they’re integrated into display devices, they don’t degrade when exposed to air or moisture.

    MIT chemical-engineering professor Karen Gleason and MIT postdoc Sreeram Vaddiraju have developed a process that aims to solve the problems of high fabrication costs and instability for OLEDs while still maintaining their flexibility. Gleason’s solution is a hybrid light-emitting diode, or HLED. The device would incorporate both organic and inorganic layers, combining the flexibility of an OLED with the stability of an inorganic light-emitting material. “The idea is to have a mixed bag and capture the qualities that allow inexpensive fabrication and stability,” Gleason says.

    April 9, 2009

    Quantum computing news

    The final release dump post. As always I prefer providing you the entire release rather than rework it into something different. Any commentary or strong feelings on the release makes it into the intro, but usually it’s just news that I find interesting, cool or maybe just funny. Quantum computing news is always interesting and very, very cool.

    The release:

    Quantum computers will require complex software to manage errors

    IMAGE: While rudimentary is a fair description of this early computer, the National Bureau of Standards — SEAC, built in 1950 –prototype quantum computers have not even reached its level of…

    Click here for more information. 

    Highlighting another challenge to the development of quantum computers, theorists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have shown* that a type of software operation, proposed as a solution to fundamental problems with the computers’ hardware, will not function as some designers had hoped.

    Quantum computers—if they can ever be realized—will employ effects associated with atomic physics to solve otherwise intractable problems. But the NIST team has proved that the software in question, widely studied due to its simplicity and robustness to noise, is insufficient for performing arbitrary computations. This means that any software the computers use will have to employ far more complex and resource-intensive solutions to ensure the devices function effectively.

    Unlike a conventional computer’s binary on-off switches, the building blocks of quantum computers, known as quantum bits, or “qubits,” have the mind-bending ability to exist in both “on” and “off” states simultaneously due to the so-called “superposition” principle of quantum physics. Once harnessed, the superposition principle should allow quantum computers to extract patterns from the possible outputs of a huge number of computations without actually performing all of them. This ability to extract overall patterns makes the devices potentially valuable for tasks such as codebreaking.

    One issue, though, is that prototype quantum processors are prone to errors caused, for example, by noise from stray electric or magnetic fields. Conventional computers can guard against errors using techniques such as repetition, where the information in each bit is copied several times and the copies are checked against one another as the calculation proceeds. But this sort of redundancy is impossible in a quantum computer, where the laws of the quantum world forbid such information cloning.

    To improve the efficiency of error correction, researchers are designing quantum computing architectures so as to limit the spread of errors. One of the simplest and most effective ways of ensuring this is by creating software that never permits qubits to interact if their errors might compound one another. Quantum software operations with this property are called “transversal encoded quantum gates.” NIST information theorist Bryan Eastin describes these gates as a solution both simple to employ and resistant to the noise of error-prone quantum processors. But the NIST team has proved mathematically that transversal gates cannot be used exclusively, meaning that more complex solutions for error management and correction must be employed.

    Eastin says their result does not represent a setback to quantum computer development because researchers, unable to figure out how to employ transversal gates universally, have already developed other techniques for dealing with errors. “The findings could actually help move designers on to greener pastures,” he says. “There are some avenues of exploration that are less tempting now.”




    * B. Eastin and E. Knill. Restrictions on transversal quantum gate sets. Physical Review Letters, 102, 110502, March 20, 2009.

    April 7, 2009

    The latest in LEDs

    It’s been far, far too long since I’ve had a reason to blog about LED lighting. I’ve been champing at the bit for this tech to become a viable option for home lighting. Right now the actual products just aren’t quite there, and they are very expensive for the most part.

    I received two 40 watt equivalent LED spots from an enthusiast friend at the holidays. They aren’t ideal, but I’m damned excited to have them burning daily. Cool to the touch, even with 24 hour a day use, and throwing off a bluish, broad spectrum of light. Someday soon these things will be ready for prime time.

    Here’s the latest in LED research news:

    Cheap and efficient white light LEDs new design described in AIP’s Journal of Applied Physics

    IMAGE: Light produced by a new type of light emitting diode (LED) made from inexpensive, plastic-like organic materials.

    Click here for more information. 

    COLLEGE PARK, MD, April 7, 2009 — Roughly 20 percent of the electricity consumed worldwide is used to light homes, businesses, and other private and public spaces. Though this consumption represents a large drain on resources, it also presents a tremendous opportunity for savings. Improving the efficiency of commercially available light bulbs — even a little — could translate into dramatically lower energy usage if implemented widely.

    In the latest issue of Journal of Applied Physics, published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), a group of scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences is reporting an important step towards that goal with their development of a new type of light emitting diode (LED) made from inexpensive, plastic like organic materials. Designed with a simplified “tandem” structure, it can produce twice as much light as a normal LED — including the white light desired for home and office lighting.

    “This work is important because it is the realization of rather high efficiency white emission by a tandem structure,” says Dongge Ma , who led the research with his colleagues at the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    Found in everything from brake lights to computer displays, LEDs are more environmentally friendly and much more efficient than other types of light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs produce light by sending electricity through a thin metal filament that glows red hot. Only about five percent of the energy is turned into light, however. The rest is wasted as heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs, which send electricity through a gas inside a tube, tend to do much better. They typically turn 20 percent or more of the electricity pumped through them into light. But compact fluorescents also contain small amounts of mercury vapor, an environmental toxin.

    LEDs on the other hand, are made from thin wafers of material flanked by electrodes. When an electric current is sent through the wafers, it liberates electrons from the atoms therein, leaving behind vacancies or “holes.” When some of the wandering electrons and holes recombine, they create a parcel of light, or photon. These photons emerge from the side of the wafer as visible light. This turns 20 to 50 percent, or even more, of the input energy into light. LEDs also concentrate a lot of light in a small space.

    Producing LEDs that can compete with traditional light bulbs for cost and efficiency is one thing. Making LEDs that consumers want to use to light their homes is quite another. One of the main barriers to the widespread use of LED lights is the light itself. LEDs can easily be manufactured to produce light of a single color — like red — with applications such as traffic lights and auto brake lights. Indoor lighting though, requires “natural” white light. This quality is measured by the color-rendering index (CRI), which assigns a value based on the light source’s ability to reproduce the true color of the object being lit. For reading light, a CRI value of 70 or more is optimal. LEDs can produce white light by combining a mixture of blue, green, and red light, or by sending colored light through a filter or a thin layer of phosphors — chemicals that glow with several colors when excited. However, these solutions increase costs. To reach a larger market, scientists would like to make inexpensive LEDs that can produce white light on their own.

    The authors of this paper report important advances towards this goal. First, they built LEDs from organic, carbon-based materials, like plastic, rather than from more expensive semiconducting materials such as gallium, which also require more complicated manufacturing processes. Second, they demonstrated, for the first time, an organic white-light LED operating within only a single active layer, rather than several sophisticated layers. Moreover, by putting two of these single-layer LEDs together in a tandem unit, even higher efficiency is achieved. The authors report that their LED was able to achieve a CRI rating of nearly 70 — almost good enough to read by. Progress in this area promises further reduction in the price of organic LEDs.




    The work of Dongge Ma and colleagues was funded by the Hundreds Talents program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of China, the Foundation of Jilin Research Council, Foundation of Changchun Research Council, Science Fund for Creative Research Groups of NSFC, and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

    The article “A high-performance tandem white organic LED combining highly effective white units and their interconnection layer” by Qi Wang et al. was published online on April 6, 2009 [J. Appl. Phys. 105, 076101 (2009)]. The article is available at http://link.aip.org/link/?JAPIAU/105/076101/1.


    Journal of Applied Physics, published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), is an archival journal presenting significant new results in applied physics. The journal publishes original and review articles that emphasize understanding of the physics underlying modern technology. See: http://jap.aip.org/.


    The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in 1931 for the purpose of advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare. An umbrella organization for 10 Member Societies, AIP represents over 134,000 scientists, engineers and educators and is one of the world’s largest publishers of physics journals. A total-solution provider of publishing services, AIP also publishes 12 journals of its own (many of which have the highest impact factors in their category), two magazines, and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation (registered trademark) hosts more than 1,000,000 articles from more than 175 scholarly journals, as well as conference proceedings, and other publications of 25 learned society publishers. See: http://www.aip.org.

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