Streetlamps could be replaced by glowing trees as scientists just managed to create bioluminescent plants, Daily Mail reports.
Experts injected specialized nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant, which caused it to give off a dim light for nearly four hours. This is a breakthrough that could save lots of problems.
The chemical involved, which produced enough light to read a book by, is the same as is used by fireflies to create their characteristic shine.
To create their glowing plants, engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) turned to an enzyme called luciferase. Luciferase acts on a molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light, says the study, initially published in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. Another molecule called Co-enzyme A helps the process along by removing a reaction byproduct that can inhibit luciferase activity.
As about the process, this is how it works, according to the study, quoted by Daily Mail:
“Luciferases make up a class of oxidative enzymes found in several species that enable them to emit light. Fireflies are able to emit light thanks to a chemical reaction in which luceferin is converted to oxyluciferin by the luciferase enzyme.
Some of the energy released by this reaction is in the form of light. The reaction is highly efficient as almost all the energy put into reaction is rapidly converted to light.”
Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT and the author of the study, declared:
“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.
“Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes. “