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Top Story

Scientists' discovery could mean less-expensive smartphones, TVs

National Science Foundation-funded chemists have found a cheaper way to light up smartphone and TV screens, which could save manufacturers and consumers money without affecting visual quality. Copper is the answer, according to their study. The current technology that is in every high-end phone and TV screen relies on iridium compounds for the colors and light on organic LED screens. The scientists note that iridium has been in use because it provides a highly efficient light emission, but it is the rarest naturally occurring element on Earth. Copper definitely solves the problem since it is a plentiful metal worldwide. Iridium, on the other hand, is found in only a few places -- mostly South Africa and parts of Asia. The most widely accepted hypothesis that explains iridium's scarcity and its origins is that it traveled here on a meteor -- the same one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Unless another meteor like that hits Earth, iridium will continue to dwindle in supply. Demand for it is only increasing as smartphones, TVs and other devices that feature LED screens gain popularity.

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