by Jon Fingas
Plants and electronics frequently get along, but you don’t see electronics in plants — not surprisingly, it’s hard to insert circuitry without killing the host. Swedish scientists just overcame one of the biggest hurdles to creating these strange cyborgs, however. They’ve successfully made the key elements of an electronic circuit inside of a rose and light up ions inside the flower’s leaves. The trick was to insert a special polymer that self-assembled into wires throughout the stem, carrying electricity without cutting off the flow of life-giving nutrients.
The team is still working on basic functions for these plant-based circuits, such as installing electrodes that convert leaves’ sugar to energy. If the technology takes off, though, it could change how people harvest energy. You could see gardens that are effectively natural solar power farms, collecting electricity as they look pretty and clean the air. The breakthrough could also turn plants into antennas, sensors and anything else where you’d normally require hunks of metal.