Giant clams could boost AV displays

giant clam

In an interesting case of science inspiring technology, the iridescent cells found in the giant clam native to the waters of the Pacific and Indian Ocean could improve the next generation of AV displays.

The world’s largest living bivalve mollusc, the endangered giant clam, could potentially better the quality of colour displays and solar cells, according to the research team at the University of California.

Findings published by The Optical Society earlier this month detail how at least two species of the clam - which can grow up to 47-in - combine red, green and blue light to create a rare white coloration found in television and smartphone screens.

The iridescent cells, called iridocytes, found on the edge of the clam’s shells produce a spectrum of colours from its miniscule multi-layer structure of proteins that reflect different wavelengths of light.

Researchers examined every colour produced by the clam species - Tridacna maxima and Tridacna derasa - to understand how they produce white. Both species did so differently, with the former creating the colour via tight clusters of different coloured cells, and the latter using multi-coloured cells that macroscopically appear white.

The majority of displays implementing LED or other light-based sources, means the clams could only need sunlight to recreate this effect. The UCLA researchers will next build a colour-reflective display that uses ambient light sources to see if the clams offer a viable alternative to screens currently used in AV.

Commenting on the possibilities of the clam, the study’s lead, optical physicist Amitabh Ghoshal commented: "Producing colour the way giant clams do could lead to smartphone, tablet and TV screens that use less power and are easier on the eyes."