Scientists Create 'Electronic Plant' For The First Time

Posted: Nov 21 2015, 2:53am CST | by , Updated: Nov 21 2015, 6:13am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Scientists Create 'Electronic' Rose for the First Time
Credit: Linkoping University, Sweden

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The electronic plant can produce key components of electronic circuits

Scientists have created a sort of electronic plant for the first time.

By using semi-conductive materials, researchers at Linkoping University have developed electronic circuit inside a plant, meaning they made a plant such as rose capable of producing key components of electronic circuit – both analog and digital electronic circuits within itself.

Plants are complex organisms. They use ions to grow hormones and to perform necessary functions while traditional electronics send electronic signals. Organic electronics, on the other hand, can carry both ion and electronic signals. With the help of organic electronics, researchers combined the electronic signals of vascular system of roses and created electronic circuit. The electronic circuit can be used in many ways in future such as to regulate the function of a plant.

“Previously, we had no good tools for measuring the concentration of various molecules in living plants. Now we’ll be able to influence the concentration of the various substances in the plant that regulate growth and development. Here, I see great possibilities for learning more.” Ove Nilsson, professor of plant reproduction biology at the Umeå Plant Science Center and co-author of the study.

The concept of electronic plant was there for about a long time but could not materialize until now. Researchers tried to absorb conductive polymers through rose stem many of times before. But only one polymer PEDOT-S managed to penetrate into the flower without damaging the transport of water and nutrients in it.

Researchers used the polymer for creating wires that can be inserted into plant’s vascular system. It created an electrochemical transistor that converted ionic signals into electronic circuit.

“We’ve produced the perfect measurement values, which show that it really is a fully functional transistor.” Eleni Stavrinidou, one of the co-authors said.

With this electrochromatic rose was created which allows its leaves to change color. It looked cool but may not be too useful of yet.

Magnus Berggren, professor of Organic Electronics at Linköping University’s Norrköping campus explains how an electronic plant can be useful in future.

“Now, we can really start talking about ‘power plants’ – we can place censors in plants and used the energy formed in the chlorophyll, produce green antennas or produce new materials. Everything occurs naturally, and we use the plants’ own very advanced, unique system.”

“As far as we know, there are no previously published research results regarding electronic produced in plants. No one done this before.”

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