How does it work? According to Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry at Syracuse, the research team was inspired by the natural light-up power of fireflies when they "found a new way to harness biology for nonbiological applications by manipulating the interface between the biological and nonbiological components." The way a firefly works is that the chemical reaction between luciferin and luciferase spark light. Maye and his team attached luciferase to the nanorod's surface and adds luciferin as the fuel to light things up.
According to Futurity, the process is called Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) and the nanorods are made from cadmium sulfide and cadmium seleneide, both semiconductor metals. Different colours (green, orange, red) can be made depending on the size of the nanorod. Right now, the team is still working on real-life applications but Maye says that "it's conceivable that someday firefly-coated nanorods could be inserted into LED-type lights that you don't have to plug in." A good bug for your computer. Nice. [Futurity]