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Scientists at Futan University in Shanghai have developed a technique to illuminate silkworms. Surprisingly, the worms produce a silk with the same characteristic.
The team’s research results are published in the journal Advanced materialS. They report their progress in the “production” of glowing silkworms. All the interest in this change is the silk that is naturally secreted by these little animals. In fact, the process used by researchers to create this fluorescence transfers property to silk.
So it is possible to produce fluorescent textiles, but according to scientists, more technological applications are also possible, especially for the development of bioengineering and medical products.
The Pompix Mori, Or “Mulberry Pompix” is a butterfly whose caterpillar is commonly referred to as the “silkworm” for its ability to produce this delicate substance naturally. In its natural state, it exhibits almost no luminosity. To change this situation, researchers used carbon quantum dots (CQDs).
Carbon quantum points are semiconductors of carbon nanoparticles, less than 10 nanometers in size and capable of emitting specific wavelengths of light. They particularly exhibit high luminosity, low toxicity and high biocompatibility.
A bright red glow thanks to the mulberry leaves
To use these properties in silkworms, the researchers assigned them carbon quantum points. Previously, however, carbon quantum dots had to be created from mulberry leaves that silkworms prefer. He then crushed them and then proceeded to several filtration, heating and cooling operations, finally mixing the solution with water and dichloromethane, which after dilution obtained a liquid solution containing carbon dots.
These quantum spots are absorbed by silkworms from the digestive tract and then transferred to the silk glands and finally to the cocoons, where the undigested ones are excreted in the feces. Eventually, the scientists obtained the cocoons, which turned pink during the day and glowed bright red under ultraviolet (UV) light.
After emerging from the cocoons, the moths, in bright red color, mate and usually lay glowing eggs that hatch. The second generation had a normal growth cycle in the study. ” After feeding with carbon dots, the silkworms glow bright red and grow healthy, usually cocoons, which eventually turn into moths. “, We can read in the text of the scientific report of this experiment, which is pleased with the good apparent biocompatibility of the selected substance. Such results in terms of luminosity have already been obtained in the past, but it is necessary to go through genetic manipulation on worms.