Glowing trees may soon replace street lights

 

Biologically based LEDs could be used to make trees illuminate city sidewalks. Grant Faint/Getty Images

Scientists from the Academia Sinica and the National Cheng Kung University in Taipei and Tainan have implanted glowing gold nanoparticles, known as bio light emitting diodes, or bio LEDs, inside the leaves of a plant. These  nanoparticles will hopefully one day replace electricity powered street lights with biologically powered light that removes CO2 from the atmosphere 24 hours a days.

 

“In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night,” said Yen-Hsun Su in an interview with Chemistry World. “This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis.”

The gold nanoparticles are the key to turning a material that normal absorbs light into one that emits it. When shorter wavelengths of light hit the gold nanoparticles, they get excited and start to glow violet. That violet light strikes the nearby chlorophyll molecules, excites them, and the chlorophyll then produces red light.

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