Chlorophyll formation was enhanced when algae were grown in a flask surrounded by a solution of gold and silver nanoparticles.

Chlorophyll formation was enhanced when algae were grown in a flask surrounded by a solution of gold and silver nanoparticles.

J dropcapessica Brand writes in Chemistry World that a new technique to enhance the formation and accumulation of chlorophyll in algae has been developed by Colin Raston, from Flinders University, and his co-workers at the University of Western Australia.

The researchers cultured Chlorella vulgaris in flasks that were surrounded by a solution of gold and silver nanoparticles. Tweaking the composition and size of the nanoparticles altered the wavelengths of light allowed through to the algae.

Although light is essential for photosynthesis, excess light can damage the algae and have a negative impact on photosynthesis. Raston’s technique limited the harmful wavelengths reaching the algae while harnessing the backscattering of wavelengths that boost photopigment formation.

More chlorophyll means more light can be captured and used to generate biomass. As the nanoparticles are not in direct contact with the algae there are no concerns regarding contamination.

Raston’s team now plans to test their method on other photosynthetic organisms.

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