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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

The Lambda Energy team stands in a lab

Part of the Lambda Energy team taken by Nathan Pitt ©University of Cambridge

A company embedded in Professor Dominic Wright’s research group has received recognition for its crop yield improvement technology.

Lambda Energy Ltd, which manufactures nanomaterials that improve how much sunlight plants absorb, has won in the Energy category of the Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Tech 2023 competition for its Passive Light Management for Greenhouse Horticulture greenhouse coatings.

The nanomaterials are coated onto greenhouse windows and turn harmful UV light into a wavelength that is more friendly for growing plants. Using a coated greenhouse to grow plants can increase crop yield without artificial lighting, improving crop yields and food security.

Dr Boris Breiner, who was a researcher in the Nitschke group and is now Lambda's Chief Scientist, said in an interview after the award ceremony:

“What we do is develop advanced materials for light management; that is, we alter the spectral composition of light by absorbing short-wavelength light and re-emit it at longer wavelengths.

“Two funding cycles ago, we started a collaboration with the Wright group here in Chemistry, which is based on two successful grant applications within the EEF framework (EEF8 and EEF9). We co-develop our active materials and then apply them to greenhouses, thereby increasing the proportion of long-wavelength (red) light that reaches the plants therein, which results in increased crop yields.

“Just about a week ago, the results of a first field trial conducted at Cranfield University showed an increase in the dry mass of basil of 9.3%, meaning we’ve taken the first successful step on our way to take our work out of the lab and into the real world.”

Boris said Lambda Energy will continue with their growth trials and continue improving the long-term stability and durabiity of their components.

Professor Dominic Wright commented: “I am proud to witness this well-deserved recognition for Lambda Energy and the team. This achievement serves as a testament to the impact that we can have when we unite our expertise and passion for sustainability.”

You can find out more about the research underpinning Lambda's technology on page 20 of the Spring 2023 Chem@Cam (Issue 66), which also features the work of Rosa Mueller, who has been playing a key role in the research.