Briefly: Science

International New York Times, November 25, 2015 | Go to article overview

Briefly: Science


As compiled by editors of The International New York Times.

ELECTRONICS

Unusual experiment gives 'flower power' new meaning

A bedside light powered by the houseplant sitting next to it? It may be possible. Engineers in Sweden have managed to introduce electronic circuits into living plants, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances.

The scientists placed plant cuttings in water that contained a water-soluble polymer called PEDOT-S. After the plants absorbed the water, hardened polymer remained, distributed through the plant as a conductive "wire." By combining the wires with electrolytes naturally present in the plant, the researchers were able to create a transistor that converted electrochemical signals into electrical output.

In the future, such a technology might help regulate plant physiology -- perhaps to control the rate or time of flower blooms, said Magnus Berggren, a materials engineer at Linkoping University and one of the study's authors.

But the experiment also suggests it may be possible to harvest energy from plants and trees. The amounts would be limited, but a few volts might be enough to power small gadgets. …

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