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Scientists Create Cyborg Rose That Could Store Energy

Mar 01, 2017 10:21 AM EST

Scientists have revealed cyborg plants can potentially address our energy woes. 

In 2015, scientists at Linköping University in Sweden have unveiled the world's first cyborg plant. As explained by Live Science, the rose was chosen as the focus of the experiment because it is readily available, compact and because it has the same characteristics as trees.

By filling its veins with conducting polymers PEDOT-S:H, the cyborg rose was able to grow electronic circuits inside it, while still allowing water and nutrients to move around. But there was a bit of a problem --- the variant tended to clog up the xylem.

After series of experiments, the scientists came up with a new polymer called ETE-S that allows the circuits in the cyborg rose to spread autonomously throughout the entire plant, and not just in the xylem.

As written in their new paper, by using ETE-S, the circuits were able to spread in every part of the tissue of the plant and not just in localized regions of the plant. Thus, they concluded that ETE-S can turn cyborg plants into fully functioning supercapacitors for energy storage.

"We have been able to charge the rose repeatedly, for hundreds of times without any loss on the performance of the device. The levels of energy storage we have achieved are of the same order of magnitude as those in supercapacitors. The plant can, without any form of optimization of the system, potentially power our ion pump, for example, and various types of sensors," said Eleni Stavrinidou, Assistant Professor at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, in a statement.

To charge the cyborg rose, the scientists placed gold electrodes on the rose cutting to create a fully functional transistor. After which, they connected it to an external resistor and proceeded with the charging. 

Forbes noted that in addition to making plants into capacitors, the scientists also made fuel cells that work inside plants to turn their sugars into energy.

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