Engineers have made plants that can shine in the dark. They hope that in the future we can use plants instead of electric light.
A team of engineers at MIT put a special enzyme inside the leaves of the plants, and then they started to shine in the dark.
“The idea is to make a plant that will work like a desk lamp — a lamp that you don't have to plug in,” said the head of the MIT team.
First, the engineers made nanoparticles with luciferase inside them. Luciferase is a natural enzyme. For example, fireflies shine in the dark because they have luciferase in their bodies. Then, the engineers put the nanoparticles inside the leaves of spinach and watercress to make them shine.
In the first experiments, the engineers made plants that could shine for 3.5 hours. But they hope that they can make the technique better. In the future they want to find an easy way to put the nanoparticles on the leaves of big plants; for example, on trees.
Maybe, in the future, light in our houses will come from plants, not from lamps. And the light in our streets will come from trees, not street lights.