Color-Changing Cyborg Flower Turns Over New Leaf For Bionic Technology

We’ve all seen movies about human and machine hybrids that have super abilities like super strength, X-ray vision and super speed; so on the surface the new bionic flower might seem a little unambitious. Upon closer inspection, this new “smart” flower is an incredible piece of biotech that fuses plant circuitry with electronic components.

The idea behind the bionic blossom is an attempt to create a more intelligent breed of plant that can respond to changes in its environment and let farmers know how it’s holding up. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the cyborg flower is how it was made. Swedish researchers created the bionic flower by flooding a rose’s system with a synthetic polymer (plastic) called PEDOT-S. Due to the flower’s stem structure, it sucked up the polymer as if it was regular water. Once fully absorbed into the plant’s system the PEDOT-S assembled into conductive electric wires up to ten centimeters long.

Because that just isn’t amazing enough, researchers then were able to harness the plant’s electrolytes and nutrient minerals (ones that carry an electric charge) to create electronic circuitry. Additional experiments with injecting PEDOT-S into whole roses allowed scientists to create living pixels that could change the color of its leaves at will.

This begs the question: What are the applications for bionic blooms and the technology that makes them possible? Potential applications for this technology could include monitoring plant health, electronic engineering instead of genetic engineering and even placing sensors in plants to harvest energy, and produce “green antennas” or other new materials. It is also postulated that the color-changing leaves or blooms of bionic flowers could also alert farmers to information about soil quality or changes in the exterior environment.

A practical working prototype is still being developed, but this technology could create a whole new way to Go Green!

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