Forget Lamps, MIT Just Created Glowing Plants

Image via Seon-Yeong Kwak/MIT

Feel like you’re in a losing (electrical) battle with your home, forever changing lightbulbs? New findings from MIT will brighten your day.

Engineers at the school have created glowing plants, according to a press release. And one day they may replace lamps.


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In the study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists put plants in a solution with an enzyme called luciferase—the same one that makes fireflies light up. After, the plants were put under high pressure so the nanoparticles could enter the leaves’ pores, causing them to emit light for about four hours.

After more experimentation, the engineers successfully made spinach, arugula, and kale glow. (No word on whether eating a salad of these glowing greens would light up your insides.)

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp—a lamp that you don’t have to plug in,” lead study author Michael Strano said in a press release. “The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.”

With time, researchers hope to create a light-emitting spray paint to provide “low-intensity” indoor lighting or turn trees into self-powered streetlights, the researchers say.

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