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Cyborg Rose Has Electric Circuits Running Through Polymer Veins


cyborg rose, illustration

Credit: New Scientist

Swedish researchers have made progress toward the goal of creating systems that blend technology with plants. Led by Magnus Berggren, the researchers at Linkoping University have built a working electronic circuit from an ordinary garden rose by filling its veins with conductive polymer. This is the first step toward developing electronics that can interact directly with plants, monitoring and perhaps even modifying their growth.

The researchers' first step, however, was to find a material that could be introduced into the flesh of a plant without destroying it. They eventually found one that worked: poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a conducting polymer used in many traditional electronics. The researchers soaked a garden rose with the roots and leaves removed in a PEDOT solution and days later extracted it. They found the PEDOT had been absorbed into the rose's veins, or xylem, and solidified into a gel. This effectively turned the xylem into wires.

Although it is only a tentative first step, Berggren and his team hope their research could eventually yield a means of building botanical circuits that enable them to sense and record hormone levels in plants.

From New Scientist 
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