27th January 2021

Comms Bio: Optimizing spectral quality with quantum dots to enhance crop yield in controlled environments

Abstract:Bioregenerative life-support systems (BLSS) involving plants will be required to realize self-sustaining human settlements beyond Earth. To improve plant productivity in BLSS, the quality of the solar spectrum can be modified by lightweight, luminescent films. CuInS2/ZnS quantum dot (QD) films were used to down-convert ultraviolet/blue photons to red emissions centered at 600 and 660 nm, resulting in increased biomass accumulation in red romaine lettuce. All plant growth parameters, except for spectral quality, were uniform across three production environments. Lettuce grown under the 600 and 660 nm-emitting QD films respectively increased edible dry mass (13 and 9%), edible fresh mass (11% each), and total leaf area (8 and 13%) compared with under a control film containing no QDs. Spectral modifications by the luminescent QD films improved photosynthetic efficiency in lettuce and could enhance productivity in greenhouses on Earth, or in space where, further conversion is expected from greater availability of ultraviolet photons. Read the full article Communications Biology volume 4, Article number: 124 (2021).