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Luminous plants should light up homes and streets

Luminous plants should light up homes and streets

A journey along the course of the future will be shed light in part by roadside plants, at least if chemical engineers from MIT can make up their mind.

Their goal is to create luminous plants that can absorb and then gradually emit light.

In the past, researchers were inspired by fireflies, but by themselves Latest experience They have used nanoparticles that can control how light is emitted, and thus have taken a huge step on the way to replacing artificial and electric light.

Nanoparticles accumulate in the flesh of the leaves

MIT engineers probed molecules other than strontium aluminate — a type of phosphorous — in plants through tiny pores in the leaf surface, called stomata.

The particles gather as a membrane in a spongy layer called mesophyll or leaf flesh. After charging the papers with only ten seconds of strong blue LED light, they emit a diminishing phosphorous light for the next hour.

The researchers succeeded in using various plants such as tobacco, basil, and watercress, which can also absorb natural light and can be recharged for two weeks.

The nanoparticles act as a so-called capacitor, which is responsible in electrical circuits for absorbing a quantity of energy and releasing it continuously. In the papers, the nanoparticles capture and emit photons over time.

To date, plants are far from being able to use it as a source of light. At a distance of one meter, plants emit a hundredth of a readable light.

The result is still a real step forward compared to the researchers’ first experiments. New plants shine ten times more than they did when Experiments started 2017, when plants were supplied with luciferase and luciferin enzymes from fireflies.

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Video: Watch the results of past experiments by MIT researchers

Big leaves should act as street lamps

One of the conclusions from the study is that published In Science Advances, strontium aluminate and luciferase can be incorporated into luminescent papers for stronger light.

The researchers hope to develop this technology into a cheap, green light source that absorbs light during the day and emits it at night by harnessing the chemical energy of plants.

The next goal is to encapsulate nanotechnology in blades over 30 cm wide Colocasia gigantea (sometimes called giant elephants or Indian taro) to turn them into street lights.