Flower power: Swedish scientists create world’s first electronic ‘cyborg’ rose

© Andrew Parsons
Swedish researchers have infused semi-conductive polymers into a rose turning it into a “cyborg” with electric circuits inside. “Power plants” created this way can transmit energy, as well as regulate the plant’s growth.

“As far as we know, there are no previously published research results regarding electronics produced in plants. No one's done this before,” Magnus Berggren, who led the study, said in a statement.

First, researchers put a synthetic polymer called PEDOT-S into the flower via its stem. The rose sucks in the substance using its xylem, the vascular system that transports water.

Then, the polymer turns into a “wire” that conducts electric signals, letting water and essential nutrients to move around the flower.

Afterwards, researchers can link the “wires” to the electrolytes inside the flower, thus creating an electrochemical transistor and a digital logic gate, one of the main components of computer systems.

It’s not the first attempt to inject electronics into plants: first such experiments date back to the 1990s, but failed due to lack of funding.

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So what could be the use of the electronic plants?

First, they can transmit energy, as “now we can really start talking about 'power plants'—we can place sensors in plants and use the energy formed in the chlorophyll, produce green antennas, or produce new materials,” according to the lead researcher, Berggren.

Also, electronic plants can be able to sense and display environmental changes, so the discovery could be useful in agriculture.

The research was first published in the journal Science Advances.