Glow-in-the-dark plants could soon replace your desk lamp, study says


Your desk lamp is not the only way to light the room. Plants can do it, too, according to a new report.

>> Read more trending news 

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently conducted an experiment, published in the Nano Letters journal, to determine how plants can be a source of electricity.

To do so, they used luciferase, the enzyme that gives fireflies their glow. It acts as a molecule called luciferin, which causes light to emit. They also looked to co-enzyme A, another molecule that helps move the lighting process along by blocking reactions that inhibit luciferase activity. 

They then submerged kale, arugula, spinach and watercress into luciferase and then luciferin and co-enzyme A. After applying pressure, they were able to make the plants glow for about 45 minutes. But by the time the paper was posted, they were able to keep them lit for up to three-and-a-half hours.

The watercress had the strongest reaction. Scientists compared the brightness to half of a one-microwatt LED light.

“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,” coauthor Michael Strano said in a statement. “Our target is to perform one treatment when the plant is a seedling or a mature plant, and have it last for the lifetime of the plant.”

This isn’t the first time the team has experimented with shrubs. The researchers previously designed plants that can detect explosives and communicate that information to a smartphone. They also created plants that can monitor drought conditions.

>> Related: Breathe easy: 5 household plants that improve air quality

And they are excited about their most recent findings

“Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes,” Strano said. “Plants can self-repair, they have their own energy, and they are already adapted to the outdoor environment. We think this is an idea whose time has come. It’s a perfect problem for plant nanobionics.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations
SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is under fire as accusations of sexual misconduct cloud what was expected to be a simple nomination process.   >> Read more trending news  The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, in which a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting...
Springfield man reports being robbed while walking on sidewalk
Springfield man reports being robbed while walking on sidewalk

A Springfield man reported being robbed while walking near Municipal Stadium. Springfield police responded to the 1100 block of Mitchell Boulevard where the victim said he was walking when a silver van pulled up beside him and made contact with him. “(The occupants) asked him for a cigarette,” the report says. “He stated that he offered...
Woman's fake, elaborate kidnapping story leads to felony charge, police say
Woman's fake, elaborate kidnapping story leads to felony charge, police say

A Georgia woman faces a felony charge after police say she lied about someone kidnapping and robbing her.  WSB-TV's Tony Thomas spoke to the woman after police filed charges against her for the apparent lie. Hillary Black of Lawrenceville claimed the incident happened in a parking lot after she used an ATM in front of a store, police said...
Increased charges to be sought against Clark Co. stabbing suspect
Increased charges to be sought against Clark Co. stabbing suspect

Raymond Roberts, the 42-year-old Springfield man accused of slicing his wife’s throat, could be facing more serious charges than initially anticipated. “The state intends to pursue charges of attempted murder and felonious assault for two separate acts during this incident,” said Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Megan Farley during...
Florida principal armed with gun to protect against school shootings
Florida principal armed with gun to protect against school shootings

A Florida charter school principal is packing heat. The principal of San Jose Academy & Preparatory High School in Jacksonville is one of the first Duval County charter school employees to graduate from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s training academy for “safe school officers.” Principal and Executive Director...
More Stories