Issue Date: November 23, 2015
Cyborg Rose Carries A Current
Although humans have been “hacking” themselves for years now by implanting light-emitting diodes, USB ports, and magnets underneath their skin, researchers in Sweden are reporting what might be the first cyborg plant: a rose impregnated with a flexible, transparent conducting polymer (Sci. Adv. 2015, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501136). A team led by Magnus Berggren of Linköping University first put a cut rose in a solution containing a modified version of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), or PEDOT. The polymer was taken up through capillary action into the flower’s xylem, where the polymer chains self-assembled, with the help of ions in the plant, into a conducting wire circuit along the length of the stem. The team also used a vacuum technique to remove gas from a rose leaf, prompting the leaf to suck up a PEDOT solution doped with polystyrene sulfonate. The conducting cyborg plants glow when a voltage is applied. The proof-of-concept work could be a prelude to “storage systems that convert sugar produced from photosynthesis into electricity,” the researchers note.
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