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Gold Nanoparticles Advance Bioluminescence

Photonics.com
Nov 2010
TAINAN, Taiwan, Nov. 8, 2010 — Gold nanoparticles can induce luminescence in leaves, which could lead to more environmentally sound LEDs, researchers in Taiwan report.

The discovery, led by Dr. Yen-Hsun Su of the Research Center for Applied Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, has captured the attention of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. The paper, written by Dr. Yen-Hsun Wu, has been accepted for publication in the journal Nanoscale; he has also been interviewed by the academic magazine Chemistry World.

“The light-emitting diode has replaced traditional light sources in many display panels and streetlights on the road. A lot of LEDs, especially white LEDs, uses phosphor powder to stimulate light of different wavelengths,” said Shih-Hui Chang, an assistant professor who supervised Su’s research. “However, phosphor powder is highly toxic, and its price is expensive. As a result, Wu had the idea to discover a method which is less toxic to replace phosphor powder which can harm human bodies and cause environmental pollution. This is a major motivation for him to engage in the research at the first place.”

In his research, by implanting the gold nanoparticles into Bacopa caroliniana plants, Su was able to induce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission. Under high wavelength of ultraviolet, the gold nanoparticles can produce a blue-violet fluorescence to trigger a red emission of the surrounding chlorophyll.

“In the future, bio-LEDs could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night. This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis,” said Su in the interview with the reporter from Chemistry World.

Su, along with supervisors Wei-Min Zhang, physics professor, and assistant professor Chang of the Institute of Electro-Optical Science and Engineering, has emphasized that the technologies and bioluminescence efficiency need to be improved for the trees to replace street lights in the future and reach the goal of energy saving and environmental protection.

For more information, visit: rcas.sinica.edu 




GLOSSARY
bioluminescence
Heatless light emissions from living organisms caused by the combination of oxygen and pigments such as luciferin.
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