Where can science fiction possibly go when real-life headlines proclaim that researchers have created LED lightbulbs from salmon DNA? University of Connecticut researchers have added fluorescent dye to salmon DNA and spun the DNA strands into nanofibers to create a brand new material that gives off a bright white light. A LED light is coated with the DNA nanofibers, and voila, a salmon DNA lightbulb is born.
While other scientists have experimented with materials like silica nanoparticles and block copolymers to alter the color of light given off by a LED bulb, salmon DNA has proven most successful. Tuning the light quality from cool white to warm white is just a matter of tweaking the ratio of dyes because, according to researchers, “the DNA fibers orient the dyes in an optimum way for efficient [fluorescence energy transfer] to occur.” So salmon DNA bulbs could overcome at least one hurdle for LEDs–complaints about brightness.
But despite advances in color tuning, University of Connecticut scientists don’t know if their LED bulbs will be cheaper or more energy-efficient than current LED bulbs, which are already more efficient than CFLs and incandescents. And with high-end LED bulbs selling for as much as $80, price will ultimately be the barrier that makes or breaks the success of LEDs in the market.