LEDs Could Help the Deaf with Hearing Restore

The power and uses of LED technology continue to expand and surprise. The ability to hear would seem like an area where LEDs would never have any specific use, but alas, research by Tobias Moser at the University Medical Center Göttingen in Germany has shown there may be a breakthrough here after all, and LED calibration is at the very center of it.

Cochlear implants are, to put it mildly, not optimal. As useful as they are for the deaf and hearing impaired, they are far from being remarkable. Those who have a regular level of human hearing capabilities can distinguish between around 2000 different sound variations, whereas the deaf with cochlear implants can only discern between around 12. This imbalance is the problem. A recent article noted the similarity between the sound of human speech when filtered through a cochlear implant to what a Dalek sounds like from the Dr. Who series (EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!). Fuzzy and cackled, the implants allow for only some relief for the deaf.

But recent breakthroughs using LED technology may be reversing this, and, potentially, allowing those with hearing disabilities to begin to hear the world in its full beauty. The solution to this is expanding the number of sound variations and frequencies a cochlear implant can attune to. Mr. Tobias Moser believes this can be done by using ontogenetics. Each channel in a cochlear implant must stimulate a nerve in order to create a sound frequency to the listener; this has been traditionally done using electricity, but electricity often merges in human tissue, making for a muddled sound that isn’t of great use (hence, the only 12 useful channels).

Enter light, specifically LED technology. According to Moser: “You can focus light more conveniently than current.” And because of this, you can create additional frequencies and expand the number of sound variations that an implant can generate. Moser’s team is using micro-LED technology with the hopes of taking that dozen or so frequencies into the 100s. This optogenetic concept has shown to be useful in mice, and further trials are planned with the end goal of highly sophisticated LED-powered hearing implants.

According to Moser, these human trials are still years away, as they need to find ways to improve implanted micro-LEDs life capabilities. This is the kind of technology Gooch & Housego thrives in and hopes to push further into the future. Accurate and precise LED test and measurement will be crucial in fine tuning the capabilities of devices, such as cochlear implants. The future of LED technology is wide, and, hopefully, loud.

Deep Brain Imaging & Spectral Transmittance

The brain is complicated. Particularly at the cellular level, where neural pathways and connections are still an object of both mystery and great promise. To map the brain, as intricately as possible, is an elusive goal. But now, as technical ability begins to approach a level on par to that of the ambition in our neuroscience community, new advances are being made in brain mapping. Many of these new approaches are being spearheaded by near-infrared (NIR) detectors, which hinges on the detailed ability of spectral transmittance.

A recent paper by researchers at both the Columbia University and City College of New York outlined some of the promise they have found in recent tests. They describe how they have identified what they are terming a “golden window” for NIR light wavelengths that allows for maximum quality in deep brain imaging. This window, between NIR 1600–1870nm, succeeds in two areas where past imaging techniques (such as multiphoton microscopy) have struggled: light scattering and absorption. This technique allows overall for a deeper and clearer image of the cellular levels of the brain.

The team pointed out the difficulty overall in imaging the brain is due to its unique composition. A combination of water, low-protein, and ultra-dense neural pathways combine to make a formidable challenge. But through careful study, the researchers tested NIR ranges from 600 to 2500nm, and through research using rat brain tissue, found a golden window of light amplification. The optimism in this find was clear: “The golden window represents a significant advance over previous approaches and could have a great impact on the development of microscopy imaging techniques.”

The key to future advancement in this field of deep brain imagery will be controls and careful calibration. The NIR range settings are rather particular, and spectral transmittance will need to be precisely designed. But the understanding of the cellular levels of the brain is one of the great medical frontiers of our time, holding promise for diseases that have far been above our technical ability to treat. Researchers hope to take further steps using laser technology and more advanced equipment in order to expand our understanding of the brain, and Gooch & Housego has the tools and expertise to help you make that next great discovery.

New Detector Technology & White LEDs

As superior LED lighting takes over more and more area in the visible public and private spectrum, photometric standards and detection will become increasingly vital. Gooch & Housego is well-situated with the products and designs to work in this light technology environment. LEDs will continue towards a dominant place in the marketplace, and with the phasing out of incandescent bulbs becoming basically commonplace, LEDs are going to be sited as the new photometric standards.

A recent paper published in Nature, by a joint consortium of scientists from the Metrology Research Institute at Aalto University in Finland and MIKES Metrology at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, looked to explore the possible usable photometric standards when white LEDs were subjected to testing by a photometer called a predictable quantum efficient detector (PQED). What they found was this method takes photometric filters, commonly used in photometry, out of the equation. The new PQED method showed lower expanded uncertainty than customary filters.

It was also noted that even in the realm of photometric filters, if we calibrate said filters using LED lamps as compared to incandescent lamps, and then measure LED photometric standards, the maximum spectral mismatch ratio is significantly lowered (the authors found this be at a magnitude of around three). Although technical, these advances in photometric measurements were specifically noted by the authors to potentially have a “significant economic impact”.

And overall, the paper states clearly that their analysis shows it possible to create definitions based on sensible LED-based illumination sources for photometry. All of this is possible due to the main, and proven, advantages LED lighting provides over traditional incandescent lighting: stability, longer life-spans (of bulbs) and better energy use ratios. Photometric standards, in the general spirit of this published work, will set themselves on the LED spectrum, whether the means for doing so involves some variation with commonplace filters (unlikely) or more novel solutions such as was used here with the predictable quantum efficient detector (PQED).

Gooch & Housego has a long history in photometrics and stands at the vanguard of this changing technology. We offer an assortment of products related to further LED study and usage, and our innovation will continue to grow alongside this booming industry.

Gooch & Housego Partner, Nanocytomics, Pioneers in Earlier Cancer Detection

We have only just begun to realize the ways in which light measurement instrumentation will be able to assist in the fight against cancer. The cure for cancer is one of the essential human mysteries, with nothing that should be placed out of the realm of possibility. With that in mind, our partners at Nanocytomics have developed a specialized microscope they hope to bring to the market in 2017 to join this battle. As we sit currently, the best bet with most cancer treatments is considered to be early identification, and it is here where Nanocytomics looks to provide a boost.

The Partial Wave Spectroscopy microscope (PWS) will provide a non-invasive glimpse into cells at a nano level, where mutations can be spotted much earlier than current technology allows. This would be a particular use to cancers of the lungs, where tumors can go undedicated until a point where treatment can be much less successful. Low-risk patients, paradoxically, can stand at a greater risk of not being screened for lung tumors due to the current cost. But with the technology well into development by Dr. Vadim Backman, screening with the PWS would possibly be as simple as taking a small cell sample from patients’ cheeks.

The hope is that these non-invasive and practical light measurement instrumentation devices can uncover cancers early and easily, and at a low-cost, allowing those with no specific reason to be alert to a cancer to be tested anyway. This testing could revolutionize cancer treatment, receiving identification at an early cellular level as opposed to late in an advanced cancer stage.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal listed the work by Nanocytomics, a Gooch & Housego partner, as one of six medical technologies worth watching. And it’s clear to see why. Cancer cell detection using light measurement instrumentation is novel and groundbreaking. The National Cancer Institute states plainly that screening tests, such as low-dose helical computed tomography and sigmoidoscopy exams, can be effective in lowering overall mortality rates due to cancer, but also the tests themselves correspond to unkind side effects. These side effects, in turn, may dissuade a patient from a test barring it being absolutely necessary. The PWS and Nanocytomics hope to make this issue mute, and Gooch & Housego stands with them.

Get Excited for the Discovery of New Semiconducting Materials

The concept of a semiconductor was entered into the scientific mind nearly two centuries ago. Yet, discoveries and advances in the technology, specifically in regards to the materials in use, continue to this day. And some are quite noteworthy, not to mention critical to the evolution of electronics-based LEDs.

Recently, a study from Fumiyasu Oba, and his colleagues at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Kyoto University, running on a set of calculations, identified 11 materials never before reported to be functional semiconductors. Of particular note, among these 11 compounds, was calcium zinc nitride (CaZn2N2). The researchers looked specifically for compounds with top-level electrical conductivity, in hopes of isolating new materials for possible use in solar cells and LEDs, common in all modern screen-based technological equipment.

As the demand for LEDs and solar technologies continues to rocket upward, the demand for physically natural semiconductor materials needed to power them rises directly alongside. The cheaper and more environmentally friendly these materials can be, the better. And as the materials known for use as semiconductors expand beyond its current base, the further technology, with heavy reliance on semiconductors, has the potential to grow.

Currently, gallium nitride (GaN) and indium nitride (InN) are the main substances for use in LED-powered devices, such as televisions, cell phones, and computer screens. As these two are specifically linked and in demand, extraction and costs associated with obtaining them have naturally grown. Part of the concept behind Professor Oba’s test was to find compounds unknown, and, hence, less used, in modern semi conducting, and thus, locate alternative materials whose application and commonality in the natural world could be of a greater expanse. As this report shows, they have done just that. Calcium zinc nitride, specifically out of the 11 found, is both naturally abundant and benign.

LED testing will need to continue to prove the commercial and technical viability of using substances like calcium zinc nitride. Nevertheless, the very discovery of its use as a semiconductor compound is large news. Gooch & Housego has a wide array of products and knowledge that have the potential to be put into a variety of applications with this growing array of semiconductor substances, as well as simply LED testing itself. Continue browsing our website for more information, or call us at 800-899-3171.

Gooch & Housego Set to Demo Mantis at SID’s Automotive Lighting Conference

Gooch and Housego’s Light Measurement & Instrumentation division is proud to be a part of the Society for Information Display (SID) and its 23rd Annual Symposium and Expo in Livonia, Michigan on September 27th and 28th. A planned demo of the Mantis system, an ultra high-speed measuring device for illumination chromaticity and color temperature, is in the works.

This is the only event that brings together technology thought leaders in the automotive displays so there always something new to learn. For instance, in recent years the industry has introduced exciting advances in AR to their applications,” said Alex Fong, Vice President of Life Sciences from Gooch & Housego.

Gooch and Housego is a leader in the intricate world of lighting instrumentation and measurement. With products ranging in application from military, civilian, scientific, and educational, Gooch & Housego’s products are intricate, of the highest quality, and often unique to the market. Winner of the 2016 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Field of Innovation, the company has become internationally recognized as a leader in cutting-edge optical hardware and software.

Mantis is one G&H’s newest and most innovative products: the colorimeter/photometer produces unparalleled ultra-fast spatial uniformity, color and luminance measurements for use in everything from automotive to avionic and other displays. Weighing less than two pounds, rugged compact, it is perfect for quality laboratory and production line applications.

“It’s going to be a marvelous product exhibition,” Mr. Fong added.

Don’t miss it at the Gooch and Housego demonstration area in Livonia on September 27th and 28th.

About Gooch & Housego, Life Sciences and Instrumentation Division

In 1970, Optronic Laboratories was established as an optical radiation instrumentation, standards, and calibration laboratory. Forming the nucleus of the company were two former NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) physicists, who individually made significant contributions to the fields of spectroradiometry and electro-optical technology.  The company was established to eliminate a void that existed in the area of optical radiation standards, calibration services, and measurement instrumentation for industry, government/military, and academia. In 1995, the company was acquired by Gooch & Housego but continued to do business under the Optronic Laboratories name. As of January 2010,  the company was merged with Chromodynamics to form the Life Sciences & Instrumentation division of Gooch & Housego. The 25,000 sq ft facility in Orlando, FL helps to broaden the well-known and trusted brand’s offerings and leverage Gooch & Housego’s extensive worldwide engineering, operations, sales, distribution, and support channels to enhance our response to our clients’ specific needs.

New Polymer Technology Leading to Cheaper & Clearer Flat Panels

We live in an age of screens. As candlelight was to the time before the invention of electricity, the ubiquitous nature of the flat screens we carry in our pockets, that are posted in nearly every public building you walk into and that we gaze distractedly at as we drift to sleep each night, is unquestionable. And the technological leap forward that allowed those flat-screens to proliferate to the level they have is astonishing, but not unpredictable.

And as good as our flat screen televisions and devices are now, they can, and will, get better. Crucially, one most important facets in the technological future of screens is an effort to lower their energy consumption, especially as they’ve become so very common. A new way that this may be done, as well as leading us to clearer and brighter screens, involves cutting-edge polymers that have been involved in ongoing display testing at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST).

The polymers are hyper-thin and, wonderfully, relatively cheap. The key to the evolution of this technology, as well as these experiments, was just how thin those polymers were. In regards to success being seen in ongoing display testing, according to researcher Alec Talin: “The nanoslits improve the optical contrast in a thin electrochromic layer from approximately 10 percent to over 80 percent.”

Put simply: this exotic electrochromic polymer technology is being used to elevate screen technology for the consumer. Polymers are not new, but researchers with CNST (under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology) are experimenting specifically with electrochromics that are thin and can be switched “in milliseconds” with respect to the creation of images. This work is leading to clearer, brighter, sharper screens through a variety of tests and usages.

It’s a complex process, perhaps best explained again by Mr. Talin at the CNST: “These very inexpensive, bright, low-energy micropixels can be turned on and off in milliseconds, making them fit candidates to provide improved viewing on future generations of screens and displays.”

High-quality screens serve an obvious societal function, and the improvement of these screens is critical. Current screens, due to thicker polymers in use, function with greater energy intake and poorer overall display configurations. Further research is proving this need not be the case. At Gooch & Housego have display testing products and concepts that will march in step with the future technology of screens; browse our website to find out more.

IR-Treated Barrels Making Whiskey Even Better

The distillation of whiskey is an art-form that takes enormous time and very specific environmental conditions. There are a range of variables, minor and major, that can affect the taste of whiskey, such as the wood used to the barrel size to the temperature stored in, not to mention the aging process.

But a recent set of experiments have shown a novel addition to this library of techniques: IR-treated whiskey. The process began back in 2009 and was ready for tasting this May. Conceived by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, their team envisioned a process of directing IR lighting at barrels before charring them and adding the bourbon mash. The portion of the process directly involving the IR-treatment was straightforward, but the technical skill required to incorporate this new concept with the existing bourbon distillation processes required an open mind to the benefits of directed light.

A few different levels of IR-treatment were applied to and IR measurements taken of the barrels, and a diverse taste was easily determined by those with a discerning palette all these years later. Barrels were submitted to short time span exposure (15 minutes) with lower IR power, and longer exposure (30 minutes) with higher power. And even this relatively modest difference in IR-treatment seemed to have significant and tangible effects on the taste. Studies were also run to see if there were notable changes when using shortwave or midwave-IR light settings, and this seemed successful, as well.

Buffalo Trace Distillery refers to the technique as “infrared toasting,” and this eclectic use of technology shows the wide spectrum of possible uses for directed lighting; some with critical medical and scientific uses, and some that, hey, make your whiskey taste a bit more interesting. The IR-treated whiskey appeared to bring out a vanilla and caramel flavor, and it also more powerfully exposed the natural oak-barrel taste itself. No matter the application, IR-treated light has fascinating applications when studied closely and the mind loosened to the possibility.

At Gooch & Housego, we promote and are enthused by the boundary-pushing elements of all lighting technology. And not only that, but we also provide many key elements and tools to this ongoing exploration. Contact us online, or call us at 800-899-3171, to find out more about our IR measurement services.

Alzheimer’s Patients May Benefit from LEDs

Alzheimer’s afflicts 5.4 million Americans, and its impacts are far reaching and uniformly devastating. Per the CDC, this number is expected to hit 14 million by 2050, and although there is no cure, management of Alzheimer’s is key to the wellbeing of those in its web. In that vein, recent research is uncovering ways in which LED lighting at specific frequencies can help with the symptoms and the effects of the disease. The application of LEDs through thorough LED testing continues to provide insight into how lighting can potentially work as medicine.

A fresh study by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Lighting Research Center (RPI) shows how “self-luminous light tables” could improve Alzheimer’s patients sleeping ability as well as reduce depression. These specifically designed LED emitting tables (which direct light at the patient’s face), can be used to set a highly specific “dose” of light. As noted by both the RPI and St. Augustinus Memory Center (AMZ) in Neuss, Germany, Alzheimer’s patients can often spend an inordinate amount of waking hours indoors, thus disrupting their circadian rhythm and leading to sleep issues. Targeted LED light tables and other human-centric lighting (HCL) systems look to offset that imbalance.

According to lead researcher Mariana Figueiro of the RPI, light environments can indeed help those with sleep issues, but “the light delivery method is one of the greatest challenges for successful treatment”. Hence, after research, the concept of the light table was introduced. The team has already placed the tables in the Albany County Nursing Home, and hopes are high within this research realm that further LED testing well net additional positive results.

Sleep issues are common among healthy adults as well; the CDC estimates 50-70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder. More and more, we discover the interconnected maladies these sleep issues cause. Light, the use of it, the frequencies, the quality, and the timing, has come up as a regular factor. Now work by the RPI and AMZ is showing how targeted LED wavelengths can achieve results that are productive for sleep. Additional research in LED systems with positive effects for Alzheimer’s patients is ongoing.

Our products and services at Gooch & Housego are refined magnificently in parameters such as these. With an array of developed technologies, we hope to push LEDs further into the technological and medical future, and we are enthused by the results of studies such as those from the RPI. For more information on LED testing, please call us at 800-899-3171, or contact us online.

LEDs, Spectral Quality, & Intensity

All light-emitting diode (LED) systems are not created equal. As on-going research is proving, this is particularly true when spectral quality and intensity are factored in, and the results here can be far reaching. Lighting influences how reality is perceived, but it also can also physically transform reality, depending on the settings and volumes LEDs are set at.

Plants know this, and people know this, intrinsically. But a recent study by The American Society for Horticultural Science looked into a correlation between conventionally arranged white tube LED light compared to specifically configured continuous spectrum LEDs in relation to the growth of plant-life more scientifically. This work, and the knowledge accrued in regards to spectral quality in relation to plant growth, has tremendous consequences for the future in the field of horticulture in many and any environments (good chance Elon Musk has read more than a few white papers on this).

The results of the experiment were notable. Four different plant species were used (two types of lettuce, tomato, and bell pepper) and submitted to the two lightning frequencies. Specifically (and crucially), they showed that LEDs set with precise intensity could cultivate the vegetables at a higher level as common LEDs with a 26% reduction in energy usage. This taken in the micro has solid implications for the macro, as LED spectral intensity and quality can be fine-tuned for horticultural needs on larger and more specifically targeted purposes.

In short, light spectrums designed and tuned to help plants grow did just that, as compared to LEDs simply off the rack.

Researchers also noted that plant development and growth was “more closely linked to the spectral fit of the light to the maximum photosynthetic response recorded by McCree (1972) than to PPF or illuminance (lux).” The effect of the spectral quality and intensity of LED sets are clear enough that the ASHS recommended further study that could pinpoint, with more direct accuracy, settings and energy levels for horticultural functions.

Indeed, light spectrum quality, intensity, focus, and detection is our business, along with LED testing. Feel free to contact Gooch & Housego at 800-899-3171, or contact us online, for more information on products, concepts, what we can do to improve your business and the future of lighting.