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Published On January 15, 2008


A New Light

Engineering students at Duke University created the BlueRay, which is being used experimentally on jaundiced babies in the developing world.

Breaking down a waste called bilirubin often overtaxes newborns’ livers—it builds up, causing jaundice. A baby might need to spend several days under a bili light—a blue light that alters bilirubin to make it water-soluble (and thus excretable). Yet many developing-world hospitals do not have this equipment because of its high cost (more than $5,000). In response, Duke University engineering students invented the BlueRay (here, in experimental use in Honduras), which uses light-emitting diodes instead of more costly bulbs and will sell for about $500.