Printer Friendly

Channeling light in the deep sea.

A genus of sea sponges grows its own light-conducting fibers that are remarkably similar to commercial-grade optical fibers--and in some ways better. A team of U.S. and Israeli researchers that recently studied several Euplectella species says the primitive creatures' fibers might serve as a model for improved telecommunications fiber optics.

In the Aug. 21 Nature, Joanna Aizenberg of Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., and her colleagues report that the sponges' fibers, called spicules, have glass cores infused with sodium ions that enhance the fibers' optical properties.

Made at high temperatures, commercial fibers can't exploit such impurities because those additives tend to clump as the glass cools. Moreover, these heated-then-cooled fibers develop undesirable internal stresses. On both counts, Aizenberg says, human-made fibers might benefit if manufacturers could assemble them bit by bit at low temperatures, as the sponges do.

Other sponges previously found to sprout light-conducting spicules (SN: 8/4/01, p. 77) inhabit shallower water than does Euplectella and may harvest sunlight with their fibers. At the inky depths of 500 to 1,000 meters, says Aizenberg, Euplectella's fibers are more likely to transmit photons from bioluminescent organisms to help the sponges find their meals.--P.W.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Technology
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 20, 2003
Words:202
Previous Article:Risk of egg diseases may rush incubation.
Next Article:Children's Science Dictionary.
Topics:


Related Articles
Grooving on exhumed carbonate margins.
World Trade Organization caught in the middle: are TEDS the only way out?
Monsters of the deep. (Marine Biology/Oceans).
Light filter: This house, dug into the side of a sand dune in victoria, elegantly makes the case for a new kind of Australian culture that blends...
Illuminating.
Deep seas, dark worlds: deep-sea vents create cozy homes for some of Earth's weirdest life forms.
From sea to shining sea.
First Impressions, lasting impressions.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |