Researchers from the Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) School of Engineering have found a way to make plants grow bigger and faster, a novel breakthrough that has potential far reaching effects for boosting food farming in Singapore.
A film has been developed based on nanotechnology that converts sunlight to red and blue wavelengths, that main type of light that plants need for growth. Known as the Nano Glo-n-Grow, the innovation maximises the use of sunlight without the need for additional electrical power.
The NYP researchers’ tests showed that 96 per cent of plants which received light via the nano-coated film had increased growth. The plants also showed, on average, a 40 per cent increase in leaf area, and a 190 per cent increase in height.
While there are currently methods that use light-emitting diode (LED) lights in greenhouses to help plants grow indoors without sunlight, they are more costly.
For a 1m-by-1m illumination area, the cost of an LED panel, excluding the electricity bill, ranges from S$80 to S$130. In contrast, a 1m-by-1m nano-coated film costs less than S$20.
So far, NYP researchers have conducted only small-scale experiments using Nano Glo-n-Grow. They expect the product to be on the market for commercial use in about one to two years.
NYP senior lecturer Dr Hannah Gardner gave the assurance that Nano Glo-n-Grow would not lead to plants developing any defects.
“(The film) is not in the plants or on the plants. It’s placed only on the outside of the greenhouses, so it does not directly affect the plants,” she said.