Gold Nanoparticles Could Turn Trees into Streetlights

Scientists in Taiwan discovered that placing gold nanoparticles in plants made them glow, which could turn them into an effective form of nighttime illumination:

By implanting the gold nanoparticles into the leaves of the Bacopa caroliniana plants, the scientists were able to induce the chlorophyll in the leaves to produce a red emission. Under a high wavelength of ultraviolet light, the gold nanoparticles were able to produce a blue-violet fluorescence to trigger a red emission in the surrounding chlorophyll.[...]

“In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night. This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis,” Dr. Yen-Hsun Su said in an interview with Chemistry World.


Link via Popular Science | Photo (unrelated) by Flickr user Irargerich used under Creative Commons license

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Toxic and expensive? Perfect! Let's inject it into a tree. wtf? Won't this disrupt the photosynthetic process by turning the chlorophyll red? If not, wouldn't the toxicity of the powder kill the leaves and, in turn, killing the tree? If not, that's just more toxins we do not need flowing into the water system when the leaves fall off. How about we spend money on the homeless before we try making trees glow.
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"However, phosphor powder is highly toxic and its price is expensive." So they replaced the expensive powder with gold. Genius!

Of course, I realize that, depending on the actual quantities, gold nanoparticles may well be less expensive than whatever quantities of phosphor powder was needed alternatively, and it's certainly not toxic. But still, it sounds funny.
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