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MIT Scientists Working on Turning Trees into Streetlights • Mirror Daily

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of MIT engineers is working into a type of nanobionic trees that could son replace streetlights. The new glowing plants are not bright enough but with a little extra work, they could illuminate an entire room.

The experiment is not final. Researchers are experimenting with watercress plants in which they embedded nanoparticles in amounts that are not toxic to the plant. The plants can emit light for up to four hours.

The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp,

said senior researcher Michael Strano.

The new tech could pave the way to zero-emission indoor lighting and trees that can act like streetlights.

A study detailing the research appeared this week in Nano Letters.

This new type of nanobionic experiment could offer plants new features by packing them with nanoparticles. The final goal is to enable plants to replace electrical lightning both indoors and outdoors.

Other nanobionic experiments enabled plants to spot explosive and inform researchers on existing threats via a smartphone app. Other plants were tweaked to assess drought conditions in a specific area.

Trees Acting as Streetlights Could Help Save Energy

Electrical lightning currently accounts for 20 percent of the world’s electricity bill. What’s more, plants can generate energy through their natural metabolic processes, can self-repair, and can be easily adapted to outdoors scenarios.

For their plant experiment, MIT engineers drew inspiration from fireflies. They embedded plants with an enzyme that enables the tiny bugs to glow in the dark. The enzyme was glued to a nanoparticle carrier that was injected into the plant. The Food and Drug Administration considers nanoparticles to be generally safe.

The initial experiments led to plants that could maintain their goal for up to 45 minutes. The latest trial yielded glowing plants that could illuminate for 3.5 hours, which is a major improvement.
Image Source: Flickr

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