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Opt Express. 2013 Nov 4;21 Suppl 6:A909-16. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.00A909.

Enhanced photosynthetic activity in Spinacia oleracea by spectral modification with a photoluminescent light converting material.


The spectral conversion of incident sunlight by appropriate photoluminescent materials has been a widely studied issue for improving the efficiency of photovoltaic solar energy harvesting. By using phosphors with suitable excitation/emission properties, also the light conditions for plants can be adjusted to match the absorption spectra of chlorophyll dyes, in this way increasing the photosynthetic activity of the plant. Here, we report on the application of this principle to a high plant, Spinacia oleracea. We employ a calcium strontium sulfide phosphor doped with divalent europium (Ca0.4Sr0.6S:Eu(2+), CSSE) on a backlight conversion foil in photosynthesis experiments. We show that this phosphor can be used to effectively convert green to red light, centering at a wavelength of ~650 nm which overlaps the absorption peaks of chlorophyll a/b pigments. A measurement system was developed to monitor the photosynthetic activity, expressed as the CO2 assimilation rate of spinach leaves under various controlled light conditions. Results show that under identical external light supply which is rich in green photons, the CO2 assimilation rate can be enhanced by more than 25% when the actinic light is modified by the CSSE conversion foil as compared to a purely reflecting reference foil. These results show that the phosphor could be potentially applied to modify the solar spectrum by converting the green photons into photosynthetically active red photons for improved photosynthetic activity.

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