A team of researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA; Crawley, Australia) has developed a novel nanoparticle light filter system that stimulates the growth of useful microalgal organisms.
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The resulting microalgal cells and their light-absorbing photopigments provide high value-added chemical compounds that could lead to environmentally sustainable applications such as biofuels, medical antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, natural food and soap colorants, cosmetic agents, and feed supplements in aquaculture.
Research assistant professor Ela Eroglu and Dr. Paul Eggers, working with Winthrop Professor Steven Smith of UWA's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and with Flinders University clean technology expert Professor Colin Raston, developed a passive way of using minute, reusable gold and silver nanoparticles to create an optical nanofilter that harnesses the light wavelengths most beneficial to microalgal pigment formation.
Algae grow in natural light, but too much lightâor certain wavelengths of lightâcan inhibit its growth. The researchers used the nanoparticles to 'extract' only those wavelengths that the algae could use, resulting in improved growth.
"While commercial application is a long way off, this research shows that algal productivity can be improved using advances in nanotechnology," explains Eroglu.
Full details of the work appear in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Green Chemistry; for more information, please visit http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlepdf/2013/gc/c3gc41291a.
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