Biomimetics and the Firefly

Sometimes, knowing the truth takes some of the romance out of life. I don't care if it's a beetle and there's no fire, I'm calling the thing a firefly anyway. There's a kind of romance to the molecules-to-man evolution story, with it's struggle for survival, mutations, natural selection and just-so stories, too. And people believe it despite the science, not because of it.

The chemistry behind the glow of fireflies and similar creatures is efficient. (It is also beyond credibility that everything to make it happen occurred by chance, since so many things have to be "in place" at the same time for anything to occur.) Biomimetics, the study of nature so it can be copied and used in technology, is an ancient practice that seems to be getting more serious lately. In this case, scientists are studying the efficient mechanism by which the firefly transfers light and are using the structure for LED lenses.
We have often reported on human designers copying the designs in nature. One promising field is how organisms generate and manipulate light. Bioluminescence, such as in fireflies and octopuses, generates light from chemicals very efficiently. Some butterfly wings reflect light in spectacular iridescent colours with scales acting as diffraction gratings, and have extremely black rims because of scales that trap light. This has inspired pigment designs. And moth eyes have an ingenious anti-reflective surface, with a nano-structure hard to duplicate.
Not only is the biochemistry efficient, but also the light transmission.
You can read the rest of "Firefly Lanterns Inspire LED Lenses", here.