The impressive cyborg (cybernetic organism) rose has tiny electronic polymers threaded through its internal structure, scientists say.
Magnus Berggren, an organic electronics researcher at Linköping University in Sweden and co-author of the study, said that the rose’s internal structure helped the electronic device self-assemble.
The team of researches has been trying to design and build cyber- or electronic plants for approximately ten years. Rose bushes were most preferred by Berggren and his colleagues because they are hardy, compact, have leaves, petioles, bark, a specific root system, and are sold at every corner flower shop.
However, at first every electronic ingredient that the team had used seemed to have a flaw. For instance, some of them clogged the plant’s vascular tissue (xylem – conveys dissolved minerals and water from the roots to the rest of the plant). Another ingredient led the flowers to release toxic compounds, which poisoned the plants. The team did not give up and tried other materials as well.
Eleni Stavrinidou, a postdoctoral researcher in Berggren’s lab and lead author of the study, placed the roses in a solution after cutting their stems. The solution was essentially a variant of PEDOT-S:H – an organic polymer known as poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) – that has great electrical conductivity when hydrated.
The scientists soaked the roses in PEDOT-S:H for one to two days. When they peeled back the outer layers of the plant they saw that the organic polymer (2 inches or 5 centimetres into the stem) had created tiny wires.
According to Berggren, when the team saw the wires they immediately knew that they could create an electronic circuit within the rose.
The electrical conductivity of the wires was demonstrated by the team a few days later. The scientists have also developed self-assembling transistors.
A combination of delivery devices and sensors could create a neuronal system that senses, records, and regulates the plant’s psychology, Berggren stated.
The sensor network may one day be used to improve the productivity of plants in the right weather conditions, or to prevent flowers from blooming whenever a frost is coming.
The study was published November 20 in the journal Science Advances.
Image Source: visualizeus