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MIT Researchers Create Light-emitting Plant

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MIT Researchers Create Light-emitting Plant-GadgetAny
light emitting plant

Image credit : Brighter Side News

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have discovered an innovative method for creating an autonomous light source without the need for lightbulbs or electricity. They achieved this by injecting specialized nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant, causing the plant’s stored chemical energy to emit light for nearly four hours.

The goal is to further develop these plants to function as desk lamps or even provide sufficient brightness to illuminate an entire workspace. Additionally, the technology could potentially be used for low-intensity indoor lighting or transform trees into self-powered streetlights.

Image credit : MIT

The researchers used luciferase, the enzyme responsible for the glowing effect in fireflies. Luciferase interacts with a molecule called luciferin, resulting in light emission. Another molecule, co-enzyme A, aids in the process by removing a reaction byproduct that can hinder luciferase activity.

To introduce the nanoparticles into the plant leaves, the team suspended the particles in a solution, immersed the plants in the solution, and subjected them to high pressure, allowing the particles to enter through tiny pores called stomata.

Previous attempts at creating glowing plants relied on genetically engineering plants to express the luciferase gene, but they only emitted light for about 45 minutes. However, MIT’s improved method can be applied to various plant types. So far, they have successfully made arugula, spinach, kale, and watercress plants emit light for up to four hours.

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The current light emitted by a 10-centimeter watercress seedling is relatively dim, approximately one-thousandth of the brightness needed for reading. Nevertheless, the researchers anticipate that by optimizing the concentration and release rates of the components, they can enhance the emitted light’s intensity and duration. For future developments, they aim to find a way to paint or spray the nanoparticles onto plant leaves more efficiently.

Monica Green

By Monica Green

I am specialised in latest tech and tech discoveries.

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