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On photosynthesis

This little bit of theory is more for your interest, and can easily be skipped, and/or forgotten. I provide it, however, because of personal interest, and because it provides the scientific rationale for the discussions under lighting, artificial light, etc.

Green plants have the ability to absorb the sun's energy and convert it into a more useable form, specifically, to use this energy for the construction of new plant tissues. Two types of chlorophyll absorb most of this energy, much of it in the red and violet-blue parts of the spectrum. Other pigments, including the famed carotenoids, are absorb solar energy.

Diagrammatic representation of the spectrum of visible light, from ultraviolet to infrared, and the rate of photosynthesis at each wavelength in nanometers

As illustrated, light energy is extracted from most of the visible spectrum, though green light is absorbed relatively poorly. This is reflected back into the environment, causing plants to appear green. It also shows why both the red and violet-blue parts of the spectrum are important to plant growth. This is the balance referred to at the start of the section on artificial light, the balance that plant growth lights especially attempt to reproduce, and the one we try to approximate using the various combinations that have been suggested above.

Topics Referenced

Artificial Light

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