Engineers have found a way of making the watercress plant work as a desk lamp. This type of plants has unique nanoparticles that help the crops stay lit, dimly, for about four hours. Engineers feel that with a bit of manipulation, the plant could become luminescent enough to brighten up a whole workspace. These nanobionic plants may soon make electrical lighting obsolete, or at least work as an alternative.
The Nanobionic Plants and Their Possible Function
Nanobionic plants would be easy to use as they wouldn’t have to be plugged in, and therefore, will not be using any electricity. The plant itself will be powered by its method of metabolizing energy. It might even be used even to create street lights that are powered by themselves or come to be used as low-intensity light for within the home.
The goal of the engineering group behind them is to have plants power much of the electrical devices that people use every day. It has already been discovered that individual plants can detect explosives.
These plants could even send this informational data via smartphones. Other ones could also help monitor conditions and detect a drought. Because plants are great at self-repairing and already have their own, specialized energy, they may be able to function as a kind of alternative for the current energy consumption. These plants are also already adapted to their environment.
Luciferin, Coenzymes and Release Rates
The engineering team decided to use the luciferin molecule from a firefly to coenzyme A to a nanoparticle carrier that helped transport the particles to different parts of the plant. Of course, care had to be taken to not poison the plants with high concentrations of the mixed components.
Presently, the light made by one ten-centimeter watercress seedling is about one-thousandth of what is required to read at night. Over time, the duration and concentration of the light are expected to improve. This could happen as the concentration and release rates of the crops are further manipulated.
Someday, researchers might also find a way of creating plants capable of turning off the light they are emitting by responding to specific conditions in the environment, such as the sun.
Currently, there are many possibilities for watercress as well as other plants too. Researchers hope to find a way of spraying the nanoparticles onto more significant amounts of leaves. This, in turn, could transform trees and larger plants into beautiful, natural light sources. Who knows, maybe someday, electrical lighting could be replaced by these natural sources.
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