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Simulation of a Bio-LED tree. Photo by Paul Dex.


As a disruptive technology, light emitting diodes (LEDs) have quickly transformed the lighting design field, replacing other common bulb types in lighting applications from task lamps to streetlights. However, a new type of LED suggests rethinking the nature of the streetlight altogether.

Based on the implantation of gold nanoparticles in trees, Yen-Hsun Su of Research Center for Applied Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, has demonstrated that certain species fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. According to Su, “In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night," writes Darren Quick of Gizmag. "This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis.” Although still in the early stages, bio-LED research raises intriguing questions about the merger of physical infrastructure and living materials.



Comments (6 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 11:27 AM Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    they need to be exposed to UV? so it takes an energy source to light them?

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 4:05 PM Friday, November 19, 2010

    This is truly an interesting idea, but how would one control the direction of the light. many new public street lights are designed in a way to minimize light pollution at night but a glowing tree would just light up in all directions. Light pollution is known to mess with the activity of many nocturnal creatures as well is the cause of death for many birds in urban areas

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  • Posted by: Bob Mittelstadt | Time: 2:55 PM Friday, November 19, 2010

    Where can we see this luminescent tree, in action? I've almost given up on ground-mounted tree uplights. rm@RMArch.net

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 2:02 PM Friday, November 19, 2010

    This could be a realy nice addition to the lighting designer's tool box, but I assume that just like any traditionally uplit tree, only the leaves that are hit by the light will glow. if the technology somehow allows the leaves to glow more brightly then from a traditional lighting technique, while using the same or less energy - well then, the inventor may have something.

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 12:26 PM Friday, November 19, 2010

    sounds like an incredible waste of time and money. what is wrong with trees the way they are?

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  • Posted by: Steve Mouzon | Time: 11:39 AM Friday, November 19, 2010

    Sounds fascinating, but I wonder what the unintended consequences might be?

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.