Any Deus Ex fans out there? You know the story of the tough dude who received a couple of bionic implants which he would use to fight his way around the block. It would seem that bionic implants may not be science fiction anymore. Although we don’t yet have a dude with perky combat implants, we do, however, have a couple of plants with bio implants.
A couple of days ago, a team comprised of engineers and botanists, managed to install a whole network of electrical circuits in a plant, more specifically a rose. Thus, they were able to combine the plant’s natural neural network with electrical circuitry.
The new plants with bio implants had their vascular system augmented with a special polymer circuit, which, according to the team of scientists behind it, is capable of conducting both analog and digital signals.
How the robot-plants were made is a matter that stirs interest among the scientific community. One of the rose was split into half, beginning from the stem. One of the halves was dunked in a container which contained PEDOT: PSS.
This material, also known as poly (3, 4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate is a combination of two other compounds, more specifically sodium polystyrene sulfonate and sulfonated polystyrene. PEDOT: PSS is considered to be a highly conductive polymer. Moreover, PEDOT: PSS is a transparent material and can be used for a great number of applications.
After the rose was dunked in this highly conductive polymer, the vascular tissue present in the rose basically absorbed the polymer. After the polymer was absorbed, it will form small deposits along the plant’s vascular ducts, creating something that resembles and electrical wire. But a couple of wires are not enough to prove that plants with bio implants can be the thing.
The team also included some switches and some transistors in the circuit network. The other phase of the experiment employed a total new approach to the problem. Instead of slitting open the stem of the rose, the think-tanks used something called vacuum infiltration. Through this procedure they managed to siphon all the oxygen out of the leaves, literally leaving them without air. Next, they would fill the empty vacuoles with the same high conductive polymer.
Hence, we arrive at the last part of the Swedish experiment. In order to see how the implanted circuitry works, they decided to apply a small voltage electrical current to the leaves. The result were simply astonishing. When the electrical current passed through the leaves, their color would change.
The team of scientists from the Linköping University, led by Magnus Berggren said that they will use these discoveries in order to fashion plants capable of powering up fuel cells.