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Trees to light the pavements

Trees to light the pavements?

Thursday 04 January 2018

Streetlights replaced by glowing plants. No, this is not the stuff of American ‘50s Sci Fi. Thanks to our research friends at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the reality is closer than we may think.

By embedding nanoparticles in the leaves of watercress, MIT engineers have managed to create a plant which glowed, all be it dimly, for just short of four hours. And as the senior author of the study, Prof Michael Strano says: “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 ultimate aim of the research team is to take over the many functions which currently rely on the generation of electricity. As lighting currently accounts for around 20% of global energy consumption, this is a good starting point. The research team hope to develop a spray-on version of the nanoparticles which would turn large plants such as trees into light sources, and also to develop a version of the spray which would make the light emission act as a response to darkness.


  1. MIT News:
    Engineers create plants that glow.

  2. The Telegraph:
    Streetlights could be replaced by glowing trees, after scientists make plants shine in the dark.


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