Every once in a while researchers make an interesting discovery that could potentially change the tech industry for the better. As it turns out, giant clams may be the key to further improving both solar and display tech, the latter of which may be used in TVs, computer monitors, tablets, smartphones and more.
According to The Optical Society, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara have found two species of giant clams that produce a white coloration by combining the light of other colors such as red, green and blue. Resourceful folks might recognize that pattern as the same one that is used in most TV and mobile device displays.
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Two species of clam were involved in the study: Tridacna maxima and Tridacna derasa. The researchers paid close attention to how these clams produce the color white. They are able to generate iridescent cells on the inside edge of their shells. The created cells are capable of outputting an array of colors, including greens, blues, golds and whites, via miniscule structures of proteins. The proteins then act like a reflective surface or mirror, allowing only certain wavelengths of light through.
If you’re wondering how this is going to influence or improve technology, you’re not alone.
Modern displays produce light through LEDs or a similar light source, which is used to create the images on the screen. These two species of clams are able to the same thing with just sunlight. The researchers are hoping they can use the knowledge of how these clams do this to produce a display that can be powered by ambient light, using something like sunlight or indoor lighting.
To translate, that would mean displays would not be as bright — they wouldn’t need to be — and they would also use a lot less power. Furthermore, this could help improve solar tech provided the researchers can produce a reflective structure nearly identical to the one the clams use.
"If we could use what we learned from the clams to build a very efficient distributed light-gathering system, then we could use that to make more efficient, three-dimensional solar cells that require less area than our present roof-top and space-wasting land-based solar farms," says Amitabh Ghoshal, the study’s author and a postdoctoral candidate from UC Santa Barbara.
The team of researchers published their findings in the January 2016 issue of Optica. Once again, our knowledge about the world around us contributes to our modern technology.