Tuning the sunlight to feed the world

A progressive concept to optimize plant growth and increase yield using smart light-tuning materials for agriculture


Why a revolution in agriculture is needed

The world population is estimated to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Ensuring an adequate food supply for such a large number of people would be challenging enough for agriculture. But climate change is putting even more pressure on farmers, agricultural companies, and crop scientists to protect plants from the effects of weather and pests, and to maximize crop productivity.

Today's options are limited. Plants are shielded with foil and sheltered in greenhouses, and their growth is enhanced by cost-intensive methods such as the installation of artificial light. In order to effectively manage the challenges of feeding the world, we created a solution that is capable of fine-tuning the sunlight spectrum to the precise needs of the plants, thereby accelerating growth and increasing yields.

Accelerating plant growth and increasing yield with fluorescent material technology

Our photonic solutions have the power to fine-tune sunlight spectra by means of a fluorescent carrier nanostructure – based on our leading material technology expertise – in order to render them suitable for the needs of plants. In the process, our innovative technology performs two functions at once. The photonic material blocks overly intense, harmful UV radiation. At the same time, it amplifies specific radiation primarily in the red or far-red region of the light spectrum, which favors key developmental responses in plants that accelerate crop growth. Our photonic solutions can be easily and efficiently integrated into existing facilities in a cost-effective manner.

Various fluorescent materials for photonic foil or layers have already been developed to enhance the specific radiation needed for a multitude of crops. To validate the technology in a real-world setting, we are currently conducting large-scale, multi-location field trials. Our progressive photonic concept includes multiple cultivation cycles in 13 time zones across four continents and is expected to reach double-digit plant growth and yield increases.

One giant leap for agriculture

1: Natural sunlight hits our photonic material solutions
2: The photonic nanostructure converts wavelengths of light and fine-tunes them according to the needs of the plants. By optimizing the plants’ light environment, growth is accelerated and yields are increased.     
A: Application in greenhouses by replacing or adding film layers (light-tuning, shading tool)
B: Application in agricultural tunnels not only protect against weather influences but also fine-tune the light
C: The future with tailor-made photonic solutions:

  • As a mulching sheet layer for backscattering on open fields 
  • As flexible reflective cards on open fields
  • Progressive photonic solutions easily applied on plants as a spray 
  • Further invention of new fluorescent material combinations to create a broader light spectrum tailored for a variety of plants and even their individual life cycle phases
  • Deep learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) app for usage recommendations

Created with leading expertise and startup spirit

The concept is part of our Innovation Center, where progressive projects and technologies are developed to create viable businesses beyond the current scope of the company’s activities. The Innovation Center builds a bridge between the agility of a startup and the more complex processes of an established corporate group, allowing innovative ideas to grow and work in a pioneering startup atmosphere. As an expert in smart materials, we have been pursuing the research and development of innovative light sources since 2005 and has become one of the leading players in the market for innovative, highly efficient light sources. Our high-performance phosphor materials are used by a variety of specialist producers to enhance the features and function of LEDs. This is an important technology for delivering effective, energy-saving lighting applications with exceptionally long lifespans. We use our wealth of experience in the development of materials for LEDs to create and identify materials that can be used as solutions for improving plant growth and increasing yield.

Possible future applications for our photonic solution are already under development at the Innovation Center and are highly promising: for example, applying progressive photonic alternatives directly on plants as a spray or deploying it in the form of reflective cards, a mulching sheet layer or a shield for back scattering. Through extended research, we will be able to develop comprehensive photonic solutions that allow crops to achieve higher productivity by providing customized light spectra for each phase of the plant's lifecycle. We are currently working on an app based on deep learning AI at the Innovation Center. This application will give farmers recommendations on the correct formulation of photonic products for specific stages of the crop growth cycle depending on geographical location. We believe that our innovative concept has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and will mark the entry into the age of smart and future farming. Are you interested in cooperating with us? Would you like to integrate our solutions into your production or products? Contact us now to discuss how we can shape the future of progressive agriculture together.

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