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C. Improving Laptop Computers

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new generation of efficient and non-toxic fluorescent lighting has been discovered by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. Biochemist Michael Sailor says these light emitting chemicals, called photoluminescent silicates, are virtually identical to sooty sand on the beach.

Sailor: It's kind of like if you had a handful of sand, you know it has a little bit of driftwood in it..that's what the composition of this phosphor is, it's silicon, oxygen and a little bit of carbon except unlike little pieces of driftwood, these carbon atoms have the right electronic properties to give off this light.

Narrator: Unlike fluorescent lighting, these phosphors don't use toxins such as mercury. And since the material also acts as a glue, Sailor says it can boost the efficiency in laptop computer display screens.

Sailor: You want to have a lot of binder to keep the phosphor on but if the binder doesn't glow, then you're wasting space on the screen, so this is now binding material that can actually glow, also and so, if you can boost the efficiency output by 2 percent, that means your battery's going to last 2 percent longer and that's a big deal!

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.