Improving photosynthesis and light capture increases crop yield and paves a sustainable way to meet the growing global food demand. Here we introduce a spectral-shifting microphotonic thin film as a greenhouse envelope that can be scalably manufactured for augmented photosynthesis. By breaking the intrinsic propagation symmetry of light, the photonic microstructures can extract 89% of the internally generated light and deliver most of that in one direction towards photosynthetic organisms. The microphotonic film augments lettuce production by more than 20% in both indoor facilities with electric lighting and in a greenhouse with natural sunlight, offering the possibility of increasing crop production efficiency in controlled environments.
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This work is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation under grant number 6884 and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture under grant number 2017-07652. We thank M. Rhode and J. Uhrich for assisting with precision machining of the replica moulds; J. Chalmers, K. Yang, Y. Zhai and I. Berman for assisting with blade coating; and N. DuRussel for providing greenhouse technical assistance. We are grateful to J. Klausner, A. Benard and M. Adeney for fruitful discussions about greenhouse technologies and agricultural practices.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Food thanks Houcheng Liu, Francesco Orsini and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Shen, L., Lou, R., Park, Y. et al. Increasing greenhouse production by spectral-shifting and unidirectional light-extracting photonics. Nat Food 2, 434–441 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00307-8
Nature Food (2021)