LED technology is something many people rely on for emergency lighting, but the fact of the matter is that these lights are made with toxic materials – including arsenic and lead – which can damage the environment if they’re improperly disposed of.
But now a groundbreaking study published in Scientific Reports seems to have found an earth-friendly alternative to LED technology: a mixture of red pomegranate and turmeric.
The study, titled White Light Emission From Vegetable Extracts, explains that when exposed to light wavelengths below the visual threshold, the mixture of turmeric and pomegranate produce an emission of almost pure white light.
Researchers were able to adjust the color “temperature” of the white light emission by adjusting the concentrations of anthocyanins from the pomegranate juice and turmeric extract(1).
How It Works
The key mechanism behind the function of the pomegranate and turmeric mixture is a process known as “foster resonance energy transfer”, or FREF.
FREF describes the energy transfer between two chromophores, or light-sensitive molecules.
The process by which the edible, gelatin-based mixture of plant extracts developed by the researchers produces white light is a FREF-like, light-induced energy transfer cascade, affecting the polyphenolics, curcumin, and anthocyanins in sequence, ultimately resulting in an emission of almost pure white light.
“In summary, we have generated white light emission from natural dyes extracted in our laboratory using a green and simple procedure,” the researchers wrote.
“The optimized mixture of two suitably chosen plant extracts using acidic ethanol, aided by a FRET cascade from polypholics to curcumin to anthocyanins, generates almost pure white light.”
Implications For The Future
“White light emission from such cheap and nature friendly resources could be important in the context of lighting and sensing application,” the researchers continued.
“It would be interesting to see if such system can be used as dyes for tunable dye laser applications. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time low cost, biocompatible (edible) natural dyes have been a part of white light emitting system. Given the vast number of excellent natural florescent dyes obtainable from renewable biosources, approaches similar to the present could lead to a more extensive range of low-cost and efficient WLE biomaterials with ease of adjusting color temperature, which will obviate more expensive alternatives currently being pursued.”
The researchers on the study are hopeful about its potential for developing more environmentally friendly and affordable sources of white light emission.
“LEDs account for almost 20% of the total worldwide energy consumption,” the study reports – the applications of LED technology include emergency lighting, lasers, and indicators.
A source of white light emission as cheap and environmentally friendly as a gelatin-based combination of pomegranate and turmeric could have serious implications for future technology.