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Title:New, portable device detects glow emitted by plants to measure their health
Date:12/9/2022 4:40:02 AM

When plants are healthy, they emit red light that is nearly impossible to see with the naked eye, but with a new instrument developed at York University, it's now possible to measure that light whether in a lab or out in the field. Although it may sound like science fiction to say healthy plants glow, this delayed fluorescence comes from light absorbed from the sun, related to photosynthetic activity and health of the plant. Plants emit this glow after they absorb a flash of light.

"We can tell how healthy the plant is by the robustness of the red light they emit. The weaker the light gets, the less healthy the plant is," says Associate Professor of biophysics Ozzy Mermut of York's Faculty of Science. "You can't always tell the health of the plant just by looking at it. Often, it will look green and healthy until you test it."

That's where the new, highly sensitive and portable biosensor Mermut and York chemistry Professor William Pietro engineered comes in. "We developed a device that can capture low intensity light emission from plants," says Pietro.

The tool, a SiPM (solid-state silicon photomultiplier) -enabled portable delayed fluorescence photon counting device with integrated plug-and-play excitation of a simple LED, can easily be deployed remotely. This enables the device to help measure the health and sustainability of plants, especially those stressed by CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases and extreme weather events, and asses impacts of industrialization. Not only can it be used in a lab but, as it's the size of a briefcase, it can be easily carried from site to site, whether that's crops in Saskatchewan, where Mermut hails from, protected Indigenous lands across Canada, or the rainforests of Brazil.

"The results of this can tell us about the reaction of plants under various environmental conditions, including drought, heat and cold shock stress or after floods. It does this in a powerful new way that enables us to study this...

Organization:PHYS.ORG - Earth
Date Added:12/9/2022 6:37:23 AM