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Dancing plant molecule could protect against sunburn

Dancing plant molecule could protect against sunburn

A dancing molecule that protects plants from sunburn by moving flamenco-style could now be used to make a natural, longer-lasting sunscreen.

Scientists hope it could also help prevent skin cancer and premature skin ageing.

The molecule gets rid of the harmful effects of ultraviolet light by twisting in a movement similar to flamenco dancers – using 100 billion twists a second.

Researchers say the molecule opens up the possibility of developing a naturally derived and eco-friendly sunscreeen to protect against the full range of harmful wavelengths of light from the sun.


The greeen molecule absorbs the ultraviolet light and then disperses it in the flamenco style dance which makes it ideal for use as a UV filter in sunscreens.

Professor Vasilios Stavros from the University of Warwick, Department of Chemistry, who was part of the research team, explains: “A really good sunscreen absorbs light and converts it to harmless heat.

“A bad sunscreen is one that absorbs light and then, for example, breaks down potentially inducing other chemistry that you don’t want.”

Non toxic

Professor Stavros adds: “Amidst escalating concerns about their impact on human toxicity (e.g. endocrine disruption) and ecotoxicity (e.g. coral bleaching), developing new UV filters is essential.

“We have demonstrated that a highly attractive avenue is ‘nature-inspired’ UV filters, which provide a front-line defence against skin cancer and premature skin ageing.”

The research is published in Nature Communications.

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