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Team develops 'electronic plants'

Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have created analog and digital electronics circuits inside living plants. The group at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics (LOE), under the leadership of Professor Magnus Berggren, have used the vascular system of living roses to build key components of electronic circuits. The article featured in the journal Science Advances demonstrates wires, digital logic, and even displays elements - fabricated inside the plants - that could develop new applications for organic electronics and new tools in plant science. Plants are complex organisms that rely on the transport of ionic signals and hormones to perform necessary functions. However, plants operate on a much slower time scale making interacting with and studying plants difficult. Augmenting plants with electronic functionality would make it possible to combine electric signals with the plant’s own chemical processes. Controlling and interfacing with chemical pathways in plants could pave the way to photosynthesis-based fuel cells, sensors and growth regulators, and devices that modulate the internal functions of plants. “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 and director of the Umeå Plant Science Center, as well as a co-author of the article.”

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