Dutch electronics powerhouse Philips released last December details about their innovative research in renewable and naturally inspired lighting. BioLight is a look into utilizing glowing bacteria to eventually light our homes without the use of electricity. The same way certain fireflies and insect species glow at night, certain bacteria carry the same genes and Philips has figured out a way to concentrate that light at impressive levels.
The science is quite complex but in a nutshell “bioluminescence is created by a chemical reaction where an enzyme called luciferase interacts with a light-emitting molecule called luciferin.” Philips has designed a steel frame that holds various glass jars with liquid holding a high concentration of light emitting bacteria. This could the future of “natural lighting” in the modern home.
Here’s more from the experts and Philips innovators as found on the CNN article on the technology:
“Designers have an obligation to explore solutions which are by nature less energy-consuming and non-polluting,” says Clive van Heerden, senior director of design-led innovation at Philips Design. “We need to push ourselves to rethink domestic appliances entirely, how homes consume energy and how entire communities can pool their resources,” van Heerden said in a statement. Jim Haseloff, a plant biologist from the UK’s University of Cambridge says the bio-light is a very provocative idea: “It’s appealing because it brings two things together which you wouldn’t normally associate.” “I don’t think you want to imagine that everyone’s going to start putting bacterial cultures into their own home for lighting but as a way of exploring the idea it’s quite interesting,” he added. It part of a wider swing to sustainable technologies, Haseloff says, but he doesn’t see bioluminescent lights competing with LED and other low-energy lights in the future. “When you move out of the normal (lighting) area — illuminated walkways and things like that — where things could essentially be growing and delivering light for free, that’s where you’re going to have applications.” Philips envisages similar applications, perhaps using glowing plants to illuminate road verges or as warning strips on flights of stairs. It also says these same bioluminescence techniques could be used as a diagnostic indicator of pollution levels or even as a biosensor for monitoring diseases like diabetes. Philips says the bio-light would be more suited to providing mood lighting than “functional illumination.” It forms part of a wider Philips Design’s Microbial Home project which imagines an “integrated cyclical ecosystem” in the home where traditional waste is recycled to address sustainability issues.