More Efficient Plant Growth with Quantum Dots by Nanoco Lighting
Using LEDs for plant growth lights is nothing new, nor is the use of QDs in LED lighting. While it is already proven that LED systems have big advantages over conventional plant lighting technologies, it is not common knowledge that Cd-free QDs are ideal candidates for optimizing the light spectrum for plant growth systems. Dale Needham, Business Development Director-Lighting at Nanoco Lighting, explains the opportunities and advantages based on Nanoco’s proprietary and patentprotected CFQD cadmium-free quantum dot LED grow lighting systems.
For plants to thrive, they require the full-spectrum light of the sun; chlorophyll in the foliage absorbs sunlight to provide energy for all of the plant’s needs, while photosynthesis - using wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers (nm) - is the plant’s process of converting light energy from the sun. Most plants do not need all of the color bands in the visible spectrum. For instance, flowering plants use the full spectrum of visible light, but some wavelengths are more important than others. Red light is crucial for hormone activation, which powers the flowering and fruiting processes, while blue light encourages the compact “bushy” appearance of healthy plant growth. For this reason, growers relying on artificial plant lighting such as LEDs concentrate on the blue and red parts of the spectrum.
Precise spectrum light, along with the intensity and duration of that light, simultaneously triggers plant flowering, growth, and reproduction, yet plants are quite selective in the light they use. Generally, their requirements are limited to small, specific bands of light, and they reject any additional light that’s not needed. This might suggest that sunlight is rather inefficient as a plant’s energy source, but, due to its abundance of light energy, wastage is hardly noticed. In grow lighting environments, however, the exact amount of lighting that’s needed for plant growth must be provided artificially, while too much lighting can be harmful to plants, inefficient, and quite costly for vertical system farmers. The product wasquantum growth lightand it was a meaningful day as it completely changed everything about how we at Gage Green Group grow and breed world-class medicinal plants.
Benefits of LED Lighting
LEDs provide particular benefits to the grow light and horticulture industries because, unlike traditional sources such as incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, or high intensity discharge lamps, they can be customized to encourage chlorophyll absorption in plants. By promoting healthy development through wavelength specificity and linear photon output, consuming far less energy, and casting less heat, LEDs are not only a cost-effective solution, but also improve the agriculturist’s ability to control their growing environment. However, challenges exist in easily tailoring existing LED fixtures to meet direct specifications in color for plant variation and different stages of growth.
A new technology with unique optical qualities is poised to take on this challenge. Cadmium-free quantum dots enable emission wavelength precision that consistently produces the clear and concentrated color essential for vertical grow systems. Tuning the size of these brilliant nanoparticles makes it possible to tweak the light emitted from an LED system to any color in the spectrum, while maintaining the energy efficiency of the LED.
Development of LED Grow Lighting
If growing potatoes to survive on Mars sounds like a science fiction plot, consider that much of the early research into LED grow lighting was conducted by scientists affiliated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As early as the 1980s, researchers began to evaluate how LED lighting systems might ensure healthy plant growth in hostile conditions, and the impact this new technology could have on serious concerns such as drought, pestilence, and world hunger.
Since blue-emitting LEDs were not yet available, the earliest experiments were limited to arrays of red LEDs. Research into industrial applications for LEDs accelerated during the 1990s, resulting in a stream of technological innovations that boosted luminous efficacy and increased the range of available colors to include blue, green, white, and more.
These developments are of tremendous benefit to scientists working in horticultural lighting, for whom LEDs represent “the first light source to have the capability of true spectral control, allowing wavelengths to be matched to plant photoreceptors to provide more optimal production and to influence plant morphology and composition.”