'Glow in the dark' plants to replace inefficient electric lights as research continues – Republic World


The light-emitting bulbs might soon become obsolete as scientists have now found a way to develop light-emitting plants. Adding to the surprise, the glow-in-the-dark plants can even be recharged because of the nanoparticles that it uses. This nascent technology might prove to be a breakthrough in abandoning the harmful, inefficient and energy-intensive current-day light sources. 

Plant Nanobionics

A report by Science Alert stated that the light-emitting plants work on the growing technology of plant nanobionics that enhances plant capabilities through the addition of nanoparticles. The plants that are engineered for light are reportedly embedded with nanoparticles that sit near the surface of leaves and emit light after absorbing the same from a different source, say an LED bulb. Calling the development a big step, MIT chemical engineer Michael Strano stated that his team wanted to create a light-emitting plant with particles that will absorb light, store some of it, and emit it over time. 

Functioning of plants

According to media reports, the plants are fitted with capacitors in their core that stores light in form of photons, only to release them eventually. In this case, the scientists used a compound called strontium aluminate that absorbed the visible and ultraviolet light and emitted them as a glow. The compound was then coated in silica for protection and embedded as nanoparticles in the plant’s stomata. 

Stomata are the small pores on the surface of leaves that allow gaseous exchange, just like the nose in humans. Currently, the challenge to this approach is producing light that reaches a considerable distance and large scale production for general use. 

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Effect on plants

Media sources reported, that the light-emitting plants functioned normally even after the engineering. The scientists reportedly found that the plants were photosynthesizing normally and the working of stomata was also not disrupted. Published in the journal Science Advances, the study also found that the engineers were also able to reuse around 60% of the used nanoparticles after extraction from the leaves. 

The team had reportedly tested the technology across five plants namely basil, watercress, tobacco, daisy, and the Thailand elephant ear plant. However, experts said that practical usage of this technology will still take a few years.

Image: Twitter/@Pauloaep





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