Nanorods created with firefly enzymes glow orange. The custom, quantum nanorods are created in the laboratory of Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry. (Credit: Image courtesy of Syracuse University)
ScienceDaily (June 15, 2012) — What do fireflies, nanorods, and Christmas lights have in common? Someday, consumers may be able to purchase multicolor strings of light that don't need electricity or batteries to glow. Scientists at Syracuse University found a new way to harness the natural light produced by fireflies (called bioluminescence) using nanoscience. Their breakthrough produces a system that is 20 to 30 times more efficient than those produced during previous experiments.
It's all about the size and structure of the custom, quantum nanorods, which are produced in the laboratory by Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry in SU's College of Arts and Sciences; and Rebeka Alam, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Maye is also a member of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute. "Firefly light is one of nature's best examples of bioluminescence," Maye says. "The light is extremely bright and efficient. We've found a new way to harness biology for non-biological applications by manipulating the interface between the biological and non-biological components."