Researchers blended electric circuits with organic plant tissue.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – An exciting new achievement indicates that cyborg plants and flowers are on the way, so phrases such as ‘flower power’ and ‘power plants’ could become literal. It’s an exceptional advancement in the field, one that has been pursued for years.
Swedish researchers at the University of Linköping have managed to find a way of blending electrically conductive material into the organic tissue of plants. Meaning that they can effectively control, manipulate, or influence a plant’s vascular system through electric impulses. This could mean vast steps forward in both energy and environmental issues.
According to Magnus Berggren, this is the first time it has been proven that electric circuits could successfully be produced in plants.
Scientists managed to basically manipulate a part of photosynthesis by introducing a type of electronically conductive polymer into a rose. After cutting the stems, lead author of the study, Eleni Stavrinidou, placed them into a solution that contained PEDOT-S:H. It has excellent electrical conductive abilities when hydrated.
For a day or two, the flower remained soaked in the solution. However, when the researchers carefully peeled away the outer layers of the stem, they found that the small “wires” of the organic polymer had successfully slithered 2 inches up the plant. It showed that the electrical circuits could be introduced into the rose up to even 8 inches. After several days, they were able to show that those “organic wires” had electrical conductivity and could receive signals.
In fact, the electric charge saw to a “constant current” according to the researchers. It’s an exceptional achievement, especially since they managed to show it works without damaging the plant. They lived just as long as normal flowers, in spite of the introduced foreign polymer.
Through electrical signals, they could prompt the flower’s petals to change color, and effectively “regulate the physiology of the plant”, according to Berggren. This means that the uses could be varied widely, and beneficial for both plants or engineers around the world. It has been sought after for a long time by scientists to somehow mimic the unique and incredibly powerful way plants store energy.
Furthermore, scientists could potentially stop plants from blooming in unfavorable conditions, or improve their productivity when the weather is far more favorable. It’s perfectly safe, and while it may damage the ecosystem if it’s strictly manipulated by an outside source, it can be reversed. The study has underlined the fact that the electrical sensors could be switched off.
It could have numerous applications in real-life situations, along with unlocking a few mysteries about a plant’s ability of storing and transferring energy.
Image source: cloudfront.net