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LEDs: Growing plants where the sun doesn't shine

April 11, 2011
With all of the mega-billion growth forecasts for LEDs swirling around the lighting market, it's might be hard to believe LEDs could become a major player in yet another market far outside their world of recessed cans, exit signs, street lighting and ...

With all of the mega-billion growth forecasts for LEDs swirling around the lighting market, it's might be hard to believe LEDs could become a major player in yet another market far outside their world of recessed cans, exit signs, street lighting and other common lighting applications.

But this NPR report says red and blue LEDs are being tested to grow plants in indoors and could someday help grow food far away from fertile farmers' fields, such as in urban towers in cities, in deserts or in regions of the world that are just plain cloudy much of the time. The concept has been around for a while and according to the NPR report was even tested on the space station back in the 1990s. The next evolution of the concept of LED gardening is even wilder -- OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) on thin sheets of film that would be wrapped directly around plants to provide the exactly the right amount of light for each plant's needs.