E-Plant in the making!

E-Plant in the making!

Researchers recently developed living plants with electronic circuitry integrated into the plant tissues. Previously, the electronic components of such electronic plants (e-Plants) were confined to localized regions.

To create e-Plants with circuitry throughout the entire plant, researchers developed a water-soluble organic compound capable of spontaneously forming conductive polymers. When a rose cutting was immersed in a solution of this compound, conductive polymer wires formed in the vascular tissue of the plant along the entire length of the stem, as well as in the leaves and flowers.

The wires exhibited two orders of magnitude greater conductivity than those in previous e-Plants, and retained the high conductivity over distances on the order of centimeters. The compound was able to pass through the vascular walls into the apoplastic space of the leaves, between the cell wall and plasma membrane.

The authors constructed supercapacitors along the plant stem using the polymer wires as electrodes and the plant tissue between the wires as an electrolyte separator. The supercapacitors were stable over hundreds of charging and discharging cycles, with a specific capacitance of 20 F/cm3.

According to the authors, the results suggest pathways for developing autonomous energy systems and distributed sensor–actuator systems within living plants.