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.