Scientists working on the research vessel Global Challenger have discovered light emitting di-algae (“LEDs”) growing wild on seamounts in the Marianas Trench, which is nearly 7 miles deep in places.
The newly discovered di-algae grow on silica crystals deposited on thermal vents in the deepest parts of the Pacific and harness the heat energy coming from within the earth, converting it to light. The light emitting di-algae have been hailed by scientists as a major break through in the search for a carbon neutral source of light. Similar effects have been noted in deep ocean fish but the presence of a luminescent algae is a new discovery.
“One evening as we were bringing the ROV back on-board we noticed something glowing in the sample locker” says Dr Faros Avalaf, acting chief marine biologist on board Global Challenger, “At first we thought it was a phosphorescent fish, which are often picked up on a dive, but when we examined it we realised it was something new and that’s when we started to get excited.”
The naturally occurring LEDs have an internal capacitor and the discovery team are suggesting they will require the simplest of electronics to work in just about any situation, although considerable further work will be required. Representatives from the World’s largest electronic chip producers have already set up a working party to investigate how best to harvest this new form of light energy. Options currently under review include specially adapted submersible cherry pickers and silica magnets. Experts predict that in a few years time it will be possible to grown your own LED light bulbs although as the hype around the earlier discovery of OLED showed scaling Nature’s bounty is rarely as simple as first appears.By AF Science Correspondents Jaz Kidding in San Francisco and Shirley Laghin in London
Press: Homewatt Limited is a UK producer and retailer of LED bulbs that rely on older semi-conductor technology.