Led by Pavlo Gordiichuk, engineers at MIT have devised a way for plants to emit rechargeable light. The research around this concept stems from an emerging field called “plant nanobionics,” which explores the power of plants when modified with nanoparticles. To create the plant-based lighting, researchers assembled a capacitor (the part of an electrical circuit that stores electricity) to hold light and gradually release it over time. It’s made from phosphor, broken into nanoparticles using strontium aluminate and coated in silica to protect the plant. Embedded in the plant’s stomata (the small pores found on leaves), the particles create a thin film that absorbs photons from sunlight or LEDs. After 10 seconds of blue LED exposure, the manipulated plants glowed for one hour before tapering off. “If living plants could be the starting point of advanced technology, plants might replace our current unsustainable urban electrical lighting grid for the mutual benefit of all plant-dependent species—including people,” says Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at MIT and co-author of the study. Learn more about the novel invention at Brighter Side of News.
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