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Researchers use nanotechnology to build plants lamp

Dec 18, 2017

Imagine that whenever night falls, the plants on the desk begin to glow, becoming a beautiful and practical lamp. Isn't it cool? American researchers have come a step closer to this dream by using nanotechnology. 

Researchers at MIT and other institutions have reported that they implanted nanoparticles into watercress leaves to allow them to glow for up to a few hours. 

The researchers chose fluorescent enzymes, fluorescein, and a molecule called coenzyme A, to glow fireflies, and put them into different types of nanoparticles. To allow these particles to enter the blades, they first suspend the particles in a solution and then immerse the plants in them, using high pressure to allow the particles to enter the leaves through the pores.

In the experiment, after the nanoparticles released the fluorescent enzyme and other molecules, the plant was able to glow, and the duration reached 3.5 hours. Although a 10-centimetre-high watercress seedling currently emits only 1 per thousand of the brightness required for reading, the researchers believe that the brightness and luminous time are expected to increase after further optimization of the concentration and release rate of the components. 

The researchers say that previously made luminescent plants were genetically engineered to make plants glow by implanting genes that could express the fluorescent enzyme, but the process was laborious, the light produced was extremely dim, and was carried out in plants such as tobacco, commonly used in plant genetics studies. By contrast, the new law using nanoparticles can be used for "any type of plant". 

The researchers say the hope is that with the technology being perfected, the plants will be able to glow by smearing or spraying nanoparticles on the blades, allowing the potted plant to become a "lamp", or even a roadside tree to turn into a "streetlight". 

The researchers also said that with the use of fluorescent inhibitors of nanoparticles can stop the plant luminescence, the future is expected to allow plants in the presence of sunlight and other environmental changes automatically "turn off the lights."

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