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by ibgames

EARTHDATE: February 11, 2018

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by Hazed

Engineers from MIT have embedded nanoparticles into the leaves of plants which make them glow. This exciting development means that one day you could have a plant on your desk instead of a lamp, and that street lights could be replaced by glowing trees.

The experiments were done on the leaves of a watercress plant, and the specialised nanoparticles made the plant give off a dim light for nearly four hours.

Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of the study, explained: “The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp – a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.”

This new research area is called plant nanobiotics and it aims to give plants novel features by embedding different types of nanoparticles into them. The lab run by Prof Strano aims to engineer plants that can take over many of the functions which are currently performed by electrical devices. Previously, they have designed plants that detect explosives and communicate the info to a smartphone. They have also developed plants that can monitor drought conditions.

Now they have turned their attention to lighting. “Plants can self-repair, they have their own energy, and they are already adapted to the outdoor environment,” Strano says. “We think this is an idea whose time has come. It’s a perfect problem for plant nanobionics.”

Their nanoparticles use luciferase which is what makes fireflies glow. There’s a lot of technical info about exactly how it works at the source link below, if you are interested.

In future the researchers hope to develop a method of painting or spraying the nanoparticles onto plant leaves, which means trees or other large plants can be turned into light sources.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/2017/engineers-create-nanobionic-plants-that-glow-1213

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