Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tree-lit streets closer to reality

Tree-lit streets closer to reality

TAIPEI: A postdoctoral research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Applied Sciences recently discovered a method of inducing luminescence in leaves utilizing gold nanoparticles that could one day be used to create more environmentally friendly natural street lighting.

Su Yen-hsun, who graduated from National Cheng Kung University’s Institute of Physics this year, discovered that implanting sea urchin-shaped gold nanoparticles into Bacopa caroliniana plants caused the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission.

The research results appeared in a recent issue of Nanoscale, a leading peer reviewed journal on experimental and theoretical nanoscience and nanotechnology published by the U.K.-based Royal Society of Chemistry.

According to Su, more energy efficient light-emitting-diode lights are gradually becoming commonplace in billboard signs and street lighting. However, he pointed out, such lighting is expensive and uses highly toxic phosphor powder.

The aim of his research is to eventually develop a cheaper type of natural lighting that is less harmful to people and causes less pollution, Su said.

Gold nanoparticles, Su said, are highly compatible with biological organisms, but the light produced is still insufficient for practical applications. At the present stage, the emitted light can only be observed using photoelectric sensors, he explained.

However, Su said he believes that after the bio-LED technology matures, trees with illuminated foliage will in the future be able to replace street lamps.


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