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Engineered Light Could Improve Health, Boost Food Production

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Describing LED light as “only in its infancy,” researchers at Sandia National Laboratories say that “engineered lighting” based on LEDs can be used both as a signal for specific physiological responses in humans and plants, and as an efficient fuel for fresh food production. In short, LEDs can provide health and productivity benefits that have not previously been associated with lighting.

The researchers say that light that is intentionally controlled in time, space, and spectral content — what they call “engineered light” — can help regulate human health and productivity by eliciting various hormonal responses.

Tailored LED wavelengths and intensities can also efficiently stimulate plant growth, altering the shapes of plants and increasing their nutritional value. This could lead to new possibilities for indoor farming, say the researchers.

Jeff Tsao, Sandia National Labs, 'engineered' light can improve health, food production.
In a recent paper, Jeff Tsao and his coauthors say that controlled lighting at LED wavelengths and intensities has nearly unlimited potential for social and scientific advances. Courtesy of Randy Montoya.

“That’s not to ignore the integration of LEDs with the Internet of Things, which is already happening with LED integration with electronics, sensors, and communications,” said researcher Jeff Tsao.

The inevitable broadening of LED usage could add value to society far greater than the energy saved in lighting homes and buildings, the researchers believe. Their research is published in Nature Perspectives (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0706-x). 

Photonics Handbook
Research & TechnologySandia National LaboratoriesAmericasLEDslightinglight sourcesinorganic ledsenergyagricultureenvironmentengineered light

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