Researchers at the University of Linkoping, Sweden have created the first bionic plant.
They have discovered how to combined organic semi-conductive polymers and analog and digital circuits to a living plant. The possible application of this research are unclear at this stage but the researchers propose that this could potentially lead to further insight and the control of plant physiology.
“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,” says Ove Nilsson, professor of plant reproduction biology at the Umeå Plant Science Center and co-author of the article.
Although bionic plants are not new, this is the first that has fully integrated circuits. In 2014, Chemical Engineer Michael Strano from MIT, enhanced the photosynthetic activity in plants by 30% by inserting carbon nanotubes in the chloroplast.
According to Strano ‘plants are highly attractive as a technology platform, they repair themselves, they’re environmentally stable outside, can survive in harsh environments and can provide their own power source and water distribution’.
The team are now focusing their efforts to see whether they can turn plants into living fuel cells.