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Swedish researchers created an electronic rose

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November 24
11:05 PM 2015

Researchers at Linkoping University Sweden have created the analog and digital circuit inside living plants. Using the vascular system of a living rose as the model, they made the key elements of an electronic circuit inside the living rose and light up ions inside the flower's leaves.

The report published by Science Advances mentioned that the technology will have various of applications including precision recording and regulation of physiology, energy harvesting from photosynthesis, and alternatives to genetic modification for plant optimization.

The research was conducted at the Laboratory for Organic Electronics of Linkoping University, under the leadership of Professor Magnus Berggren.

According to Linkoping University's website, Professor Berggren has been researching printed electronics since the beginning of the 1990s. The independent research was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation at the end of 2012.

The main idea of the study was to use the plants' own architecture and biology to help them assemble devices on the inside.

The researchers inserted special polymers that are able to carry electricity to a plant's xylem, a channel that transport water. They dissolved the conducting polymers into the water so the plant could pull them up to the channels and link them together into wires.

The researchers found the conducting polymer, PEDOT-S, which turned out to be soluble in water.

When the water containing PEDOT-S absorbed into a rose, the polymer converted into a hydrogel thin film along the channel through which the flower absorbs water. The thin film functioned as a small wire that can contain an electronic charge in the rose. The conductive ability of the polymer film was 0.13 siemens/cm to 1 siemens/cm.

Berggren's team then added other electronic patches on the surface on the rose stems to create transistors that were able to switch the current in a wire on and off.

The researchers also conducted another way to introduce the polymer using vacuum infiltration. The vacuum infiltration inserted PEDOT with nanocellulose fibres into the foliage of the rose. The cellulose formed 3D structure inside the rose leaf with small cavities filled with the conductive polymer.

According to ScienceMag, the plant circuitry may help farmers to monitor their crops and control when they ripen.

The technology may also allow people to utilize energy from living trees directly, not by cutting them down and using them for fuel. The breakthrough could also turn plants into antennas or anything else that normally require metals.

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