Scientists at Linkoping University, in Sweden, have achieved a world’s first by weaving electronics into the vascular system of a garden rose. The results could pave the way for the production of power from photosynthesis.
The team mixed an electrically conductive soluble polymer with water, before placing it in a bowl with the common flower. The plant drew up the water together with the polymer and with the aid of ions within the flower; the scientists were able to demonstrate that an electric circuit could be created by utilizing the polymer wire.
They report that the four key components of a circuit have been achieved using the xylem, leaves, veins and signals of the plant as the template and integral part of the circuit elements and functions.
Lead author, Professor Magnus Berggren, said “Now we can really start talking about ‘power plants’. We can place sensors in plants and use the energy formed in the chlorophyll to produce green antennas, or to produce new materials. Everything occurs naturally and we use the plants own very advanced unique systems.”
As well as energy harvesting from photosynthesis, integrated and distributed electronics in plants could eventually lead to a variety of applications, including precise recording and regulation of physiology, and alternatives to genetic modification to optimize plant yield.
The full research document is published in the journal ‘Science Advances’.