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03/13/2001

LEDs and Water Hazards

If you''ve read my last two columns, you may rightfully assume
that I''ve become obsessed with the subject of water since arriving
on Marco Island. This obsession was only heightened following
a round of golf at the water hazard-infested Vanderbilt Country
Club course in Naples. I shot my best round of the year but
various and sundry ponds and lakes gobbled up a half dozen
brand new golf balls. (Ok, it was my only round this year and
my golf was atrocious! And I thank my nephew Bob and his
friends Jerry and Gary for putting up with my performance.)
With all the water in evidence in these parts, it''s hard to believe
that Florida is experiencing a severe drought. Today''s front page
of the Marco Daily News has a large color photo of a parched
and cracked Everglades and the lead story tells of the acting
police chief of Naples going out on pre-dawn patrols looking for
criminals. Not your rapists or burglars, but water scofflaws
watering lawns, washing cars or the like.

The nationwide consumption of drinkable water in the U.S.
averages around 150 gallons a day per person. Here on Marco
the figure is 310 and in Naples it''s 350 gallons a day, over twice
the national average. Key culprits are the lawn and landscape
waterers, notably the many golf courses in the area. It seems that
only recently is serious consideration being given to the use of
"gray", recycled wastewater. This appears to be one of the rare
areas where less-developed countries have shown the way. Last
week, we talked about Namibia''s use of gray water for various
purposes, even at times for a substantial fraction of the drinking
water in Namibia''s capital city.

Another water-related problem of concern here relates to my
favorite dish here on Marco, the fresh grouper sandwich. I''ve
often wondered, in view of the popularity of this item, as to
whether the grouper wasn''t being overfished. Sure enough, the
same newspaper has a story stating that a month-long ban on
grouper fishing in local waters has just been put into effect. This
is the peak of the spawning season; said spawning apparently
takes place in the coastal waters since the ban only extends some
50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a fishing boat
captain I queried at a local restaurant while I was munching on a
grouper sandwich. I felt comfortable eating it after being assured
that the seafood content was gathered in a legal manner.

After putting aside the newspaper, I decided to finish the
February Scientific American, which provided much of the
material for last week''s column. I was pleasantly surprised to
find an article titled "In Pursuit of the Ultimate Lamp" co-
authored by a former Bell Labs colleague, Nick Holonyak. I
may have mentioned Nick in an earlier article on light emitting
diodes (LEDs). But he''s one of the good guys and his history is
worth repeating. When John Bardeen, one of the three inventors
of the transistor, left Bell Labs, he became a professor at the
University of Illinois, where his work on superconductivity led to
his second Nobel Prize (his first being for the transistor).
Holonyak was Bardeen''s first Ph.D. student at Illinois. Nick
came to Bell Labs but, like Bardeen, left to return to Illinois as a
professor. Back at Bell Labs, we worked on gallium phosphide
LEDs and were ecstatic when we got them bright enough to put
in the pushbuttons of the Princess phones used in the old Bell
System ("Ma Bell" has been dead now for some 17 years).

However, at Illinois Nick was smarter and added arsenic to the
gallium phosphide. His gallium arsenide phosphide LEDs paved
the way to the superbright LEDs of today. For his LED work,
Nick has received a number of awards, the most prestigious
being the Japan Prize, which is accompanied by a substantial
bunch of dollars. Holonyak''s co-authors, George Craford and
Frederick Kish, are no slouches either. I knew George when he
worked for Monsanto and he is credited with making the first
yellow LED. He''s now chief technology officer for LumiLeds
Lighting, a company formed jointly by Agilent Technologies and
Philips. Kish is a manager at Agilent Technologies and was
involved in developing the high brightness LEDs you see ahead
of you in automobile stoplights or in traffic lights. Both these
fellows were students in Holonyak''s lab at Illinois. Bardeen,
now deceased, must have been quite proud of his academic
children and grandchildren.

The article shows a picture of what is described as the world''s
largest video screen. The screen covers over 10,000 square feet
and employs over 18 million LEDs! Fittingly enough for readers
of stocksandnews.com, this screen is the 8-story tall NASDAQ
billboard on Times Square in New York. In an earlier column, I
discussed the projected use of LEDs to change the color of light
in a room to match your particular mood or desire. This is
accomplished by using lamps containing LEDs of different
colors and adjusting the brightness of each to get the particular
color. A cool application of this approach was the Metropolitan
Museum of Art''s lighting of an exhibit of the Beatles'' Sgt. Pepper
costumes. The literal coolness of the LED lighting also has the
added benefit of not heating up the fabrics, minimizing the
deterioration that could result from hot incandescent lamps.

If you think that I''ve strayed from the subject of water, let me tell
you what really caught my attention in the article. If you''ve
watched any recent TV shows dealing with underwater research,
you''ve probably seen segments dealing with the attachment of
cameras to whales, sharks or seals. The object of using these so-
called "Crittercams" is, of course, to record what really goes on
down in the depths of the seas. The Crittercam allows us to get a
unique view from the standpoint of the marine animal itself.

The article refers to the work of marine biologist Greg Marshall,
who''s associated with National Geographic Television. One of
his prime concerns is that sperm whales, for example, tend to
meander around the ocean at depths down to several thousand
feet below the surface. At such depths there''s precious little
light, to say the least. Not only that, but the pressures are
tremendous and would crush your trusty 35 mm camera. From
the lighting standpoint, LEDs are ideal compared to those
powerful floodlights you might think of first. The LEDs are tiny
and require much less power. Their small size and low power
means you can cram into your Crittercam all kinds of electronics
to record data such as time, temperature, speed, direction, depth,
sounds, etc.

All this is housed in a pressure-resistant torpedo-shaped metal
cylinder and some plucky guy or gal has the responsibility of
attaching it to the whale. But there''s still a problem. Greg
Marshall is finicky and he wants to record the natural behavior of
the whale and its surroundings. Most underwater projects of this
nature involve using a bright light to illuminate the scene. But
this means both the whale and the surrounding marine life will
sense the light and will probably react differently from their
normal behavior in the blackness of the underwater environment.

Here''s where the LEDs shine again. By the proper choice of
material to make the LEDs, you can generate infrared light,
which is invisible to marine life as well as to us humans. By
making the camera one of those night-vision types such as the
ones that film those nighttime scenes we occasionally see on TV,
Marshall can accomplish his goal of catching the animals doing
what comes naturally. His Crittercam has already revealed
hitherto unknown behaviors such as bubble-blowing seals and
the "singing" they do during courtship. The Scientific American
editors opined that the chase scene resulting from a Crittercam
attached to a shark was just as exciting as a spy movie. In case
you''re wondering how the film is retrieved, there''s a time release
mechanism that releases the Crittercam from its harness and it
floats to the surface. I presume there''s a transmitter of some sort
that allows its location to be determined for its retrieval.

After finishing this article, I found a relevant item in the March
2001 Discover magazine. I''ve mentioned previously my work on
lithium batteries. In particular, I was a co-inventor of a cathode
material, niobium selenide, and at Bell Labs we made a great AA
lithium cell using it. As with the LEDs and Nick, John
Goodenough, now at the University of Texas, was smarter. I met
John at a NATO-sponsored course on microbatteries in Sicily,
where we were both lecturers in the course. He invented a
cathode material known as lithium cobalt oxide, with twice the
voltage of our material. Sony picked it up and it''s the cathode
material used in most of today''s lithium-ion batteries that power
your laptops or cellular telephones. The Discover item reported
that Goodenough, again like Holonyak, has won the Japan Prize
and the accompanying $450,000!

Oh well, I''m going out to buy another bunch of golf balls. My
nephew has indicated we''re going to play another water-infested
course. At least in golf I don''t have to worry that I''ll ever come
close to missing out on any big time prizes!

Allen F. Bortrum



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-03/13/2001-      
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Dr. Bortrum

03/13/2001

LEDs and Water Hazards

If you''ve read my last two columns, you may rightfully assume
that I''ve become obsessed with the subject of water since arriving
on Marco Island. This obsession was only heightened following
a round of golf at the water hazard-infested Vanderbilt Country
Club course in Naples. I shot my best round of the year but
various and sundry ponds and lakes gobbled up a half dozen
brand new golf balls. (Ok, it was my only round this year and
my golf was atrocious! And I thank my nephew Bob and his
friends Jerry and Gary for putting up with my performance.)
With all the water in evidence in these parts, it''s hard to believe
that Florida is experiencing a severe drought. Today''s front page
of the Marco Daily News has a large color photo of a parched
and cracked Everglades and the lead story tells of the acting
police chief of Naples going out on pre-dawn patrols looking for
criminals. Not your rapists or burglars, but water scofflaws
watering lawns, washing cars or the like.

The nationwide consumption of drinkable water in the U.S.
averages around 150 gallons a day per person. Here on Marco
the figure is 310 and in Naples it''s 350 gallons a day, over twice
the national average. Key culprits are the lawn and landscape
waterers, notably the many golf courses in the area. It seems that
only recently is serious consideration being given to the use of
"gray", recycled wastewater. This appears to be one of the rare
areas where less-developed countries have shown the way. Last
week, we talked about Namibia''s use of gray water for various
purposes, even at times for a substantial fraction of the drinking
water in Namibia''s capital city.

Another water-related problem of concern here relates to my
favorite dish here on Marco, the fresh grouper sandwich. I''ve
often wondered, in view of the popularity of this item, as to
whether the grouper wasn''t being overfished. Sure enough, the
same newspaper has a story stating that a month-long ban on
grouper fishing in local waters has just been put into effect. This
is the peak of the spawning season; said spawning apparently
takes place in the coastal waters since the ban only extends some
50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a fishing boat
captain I queried at a local restaurant while I was munching on a
grouper sandwich. I felt comfortable eating it after being assured
that the seafood content was gathered in a legal manner.

After putting aside the newspaper, I decided to finish the
February Scientific American, which provided much of the
material for last week''s column. I was pleasantly surprised to
find an article titled "In Pursuit of the Ultimate Lamp" co-
authored by a former Bell Labs colleague, Nick Holonyak. I
may have mentioned Nick in an earlier article on light emitting
diodes (LEDs). But he''s one of the good guys and his history is
worth repeating. When John Bardeen, one of the three inventors
of the transistor, left Bell Labs, he became a professor at the
University of Illinois, where his work on superconductivity led to
his second Nobel Prize (his first being for the transistor).
Holonyak was Bardeen''s first Ph.D. student at Illinois. Nick
came to Bell Labs but, like Bardeen, left to return to Illinois as a
professor. Back at Bell Labs, we worked on gallium phosphide
LEDs and were ecstatic when we got them bright enough to put
in the pushbuttons of the Princess phones used in the old Bell
System ("Ma Bell" has been dead now for some 17 years).

However, at Illinois Nick was smarter and added arsenic to the
gallium phosphide. His gallium arsenide phosphide LEDs paved
the way to the superbright LEDs of today. For his LED work,
Nick has received a number of awards, the most prestigious
being the Japan Prize, which is accompanied by a substantial
bunch of dollars. Holonyak''s co-authors, George Craford and
Frederick Kish, are no slouches either. I knew George when he
worked for Monsanto and he is credited with making the first
yellow LED. He''s now chief technology officer for LumiLeds
Lighting, a company formed jointly by Agilent Technologies and
Philips. Kish is a manager at Agilent Technologies and was
involved in developing the high brightness LEDs you see ahead
of you in automobile stoplights or in traffic lights. Both these
fellows were students in Holonyak''s lab at Illinois. Bardeen,
now deceased, must have been quite proud of his academic
children and grandchildren.

The article shows a picture of what is described as the world''s
largest video screen. The screen covers over 10,000 square feet
and employs over 18 million LEDs! Fittingly enough for readers
of stocksandnews.com, this screen is the 8-story tall NASDAQ
billboard on Times Square in New York. In an earlier column, I
discussed the projected use of LEDs to change the color of light
in a room to match your particular mood or desire. This is
accomplished by using lamps containing LEDs of different
colors and adjusting the brightness of each to get the particular
color. A cool application of this approach was the Metropolitan
Museum of Art''s lighting of an exhibit of the Beatles'' Sgt. Pepper
costumes. The literal coolness of the LED lighting also has the
added benefit of not heating up the fabrics, minimizing the
deterioration that could result from hot incandescent lamps.

If you think that I''ve strayed from the subject of water, let me tell
you what really caught my attention in the article. If you''ve
watched any recent TV shows dealing with underwater research,
you''ve probably seen segments dealing with the attachment of
cameras to whales, sharks or seals. The object of using these so-
called "Crittercams" is, of course, to record what really goes on
down in the depths of the seas. The Crittercam allows us to get a
unique view from the standpoint of the marine animal itself.

The article refers to the work of marine biologist Greg Marshall,
who''s associated with National Geographic Television. One of
his prime concerns is that sperm whales, for example, tend to
meander around the ocean at depths down to several thousand
feet below the surface. At such depths there''s precious little
light, to say the least. Not only that, but the pressures are
tremendous and would crush your trusty 35 mm camera. From
the lighting standpoint, LEDs are ideal compared to those
powerful floodlights you might think of first. The LEDs are tiny
and require much less power. Their small size and low power
means you can cram into your Crittercam all kinds of electronics
to record data such as time, temperature, speed, direction, depth,
sounds, etc.

All this is housed in a pressure-resistant torpedo-shaped metal
cylinder and some plucky guy or gal has the responsibility of
attaching it to the whale. But there''s still a problem. Greg
Marshall is finicky and he wants to record the natural behavior of
the whale and its surroundings. Most underwater projects of this
nature involve using a bright light to illuminate the scene. But
this means both the whale and the surrounding marine life will
sense the light and will probably react differently from their
normal behavior in the blackness of the underwater environment.

Here''s where the LEDs shine again. By the proper choice of
material to make the LEDs, you can generate infrared light,
which is invisible to marine life as well as to us humans. By
making the camera one of those night-vision types such as the
ones that film those nighttime scenes we occasionally see on TV,
Marshall can accomplish his goal of catching the animals doing
what comes naturally. His Crittercam has already revealed
hitherto unknown behaviors such as bubble-blowing seals and
the "singing" they do during courtship. The Scientific American
editors opined that the chase scene resulting from a Crittercam
attached to a shark was just as exciting as a spy movie. In case
you''re wondering how the film is retrieved, there''s a time release
mechanism that releases the Crittercam from its harness and it
floats to the surface. I presume there''s a transmitter of some sort
that allows its location to be determined for its retrieval.

After finishing this article, I found a relevant item in the March
2001 Discover magazine. I''ve mentioned previously my work on
lithium batteries. In particular, I was a co-inventor of a cathode
material, niobium selenide, and at Bell Labs we made a great AA
lithium cell using it. As with the LEDs and Nick, John
Goodenough, now at the University of Texas, was smarter. I met
John at a NATO-sponsored course on microbatteries in Sicily,
where we were both lecturers in the course. He invented a
cathode material known as lithium cobalt oxide, with twice the
voltage of our material. Sony picked it up and it''s the cathode
material used in most of today''s lithium-ion batteries that power
your laptops or cellular telephones. The Discover item reported
that Goodenough, again like Holonyak, has won the Japan Prize
and the accompanying $450,000!

Oh well, I''m going out to buy another bunch of golf balls. My
nephew has indicated we''re going to play another water-infested
course. At least in golf I don''t have to worry that I''ll ever come
close to missing out on any big time prizes!

Allen F. Bortrum