Today is the 50th birthday of the first practical LED, an invention built on an understanding that has transformed our lives: enabling cheap, mass-produced and very hardy display and lighting technologies.
A while back, GE produced a great piece of branded content featuring its inventor, Prof. Nick Holonyak, where he offers some insight into the moment that his light emitting diodes were first conceived:
He leaves us with the advice to “Learn more, do more, build more, reveal more”, which doesn’t take a physicist to know is just brilliant advice for life, for ‘inventors’ of all kinds.
“And you know what? This isn’t the end!”
The guys at GelSight are on to something big – or at least, magnified.
Their specially designed rubber lens lets one see details as small as two microns thick, through their patent-pending and newly perfected approach. This video demonstrates how it all works:
And this video shows off the extent of GelSight’s sensitivity:
The stuff looks really cheap to produce, but with a wide range of applications, especially for ballistics or engineering. Personally, I’d buy some just to use as a desk toy, alongside my Intelligent Putty and other cool shit.
It’s the simple combination of rubber and reflective paint that makes GelSight’s patent so valuable, albeit so simple. Yet it took two MIT alumni to spot the gap and to productize. Goes to show what other great combinations are still out there waiting to be discovered!