Gold nanoparticles turn trees into streetlights

The discovery that gold nanoparticles can induce luminescence in leaves has opened up the prospect of using roadside trees as streetlights. Post-doctor Yen-Hsun Su of Research Center for Applied Science (RCAS), Academia Sinica, Taiwan, implanted gold nanoparticles into Bacopa caroliniana plants and found that, when exposed to high wavelength ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles can produce a blue-violet fluorescence that triggers a red emission of the surrounding chlorophyll.

Dr. Yen-Hsun Su is a former student of the Department of Physics at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan where he was supervised by Prof. Wei-Min Zhang of Department of Physics and Assistant Prof. Shih-Hui Chang of Institute of Electro-Optical Science and Engineering.

Upon learning of the discovery, Assistant Prof. Shih-Hui Chang said: “Light emitting diode (LED) has replaced traditional light source in many display panels and street lights on the road. A lot of light emitting diode, especially white light emitting diode, uses phosphor powder to stimulate light of different wavelengths. However, phosphor powder is highly toxic and its price is expensive. As a result, Dr. Yen-Hsun 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.”

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