Scientists Create an Incredible Cyborg Rose with Electrical Veins and Circuits

Scientists have combined biology, agriculture, and technology into a cohesive science to do the impossible. They have managed to construct a cyborg rose that has polymer veins running through it. This could be an evolutionary find that defines the whole field of crop growth and agriculture in a new way.

The concept of incorporating plants with computers and electric circuits can help scientists regulate and control the growth of plants, trees, and crops. This exceptional feat was made possible by Magnus Berggren and his team at the Linkoping University in Sweden. They started their research with the idea that the living tissue and veins inside a human body act as a conductive material to transfer neural messages to the brain.

This concept was then applied to a rose by plugging the rose with fuel cells that can power the plant to maintain its physiological properties by regulating the process of photosynthesis. This experiment has opened the doors to a completely new field of science, which will allow scientists to weave electrical circuits into plants and manipulate their growth and produce per capita.

However, this research was not completely uneventful. It was difficult at first to find a suitable conductive material for the plant’s flesh, which has to conduct electricity and be water soluble at the same time. The scientists faced many difficulties as most of the materials they used were toxic and caused the vascular system of the rose to clog while failing to adhere to the inner surface and xylem.

Linkoping Unversity
Linkoping Unversity

Finally, after much struggle, they found a polymer named PEDOT (poly 3, 4-ethylenedioxythiophene), which readily soaked into the rose and converted into a conductive solid gel. When the outer layer of the plant’s flesh was removed for evaluation, the scientists found a system of intricate wires winding through the stem of the rose. A postdoctoral researcher, Eleni Stavrinidou, took microscopic pictures of the electrical system inside the rose and said, “The performances, the shape of the wires, were just outstanding, unbelievable.”

The research team, after their success, is looking forward to manufacturing botanical circuits that will have the ability to record hormonal changes in plants. This biological circuitry will influence the physiological and growth properties of the plant, which is a better option than genetic modification.

One of the hurdles that the research team is now facing is the mortality rate of the polymer-embedded rose. Their goal is to keep the plant alive until it is completely flushed with the conductive gel. With this discovery, there will be a time, in a not so distant future, when we will be able to eradicate the woes of world hunger by producing food that is safe from GMOs and harmful chemicals.

According to Andrew Adamantzky, Director of Unconventional Computing Laboratory at the University of West of England, Bristol, UK, “In the very distant future – neither ourselves nor our kids will see this – we can grow vegetable computers in our gardens.”

Have Scientists at MIT Successfully Designed the Band Aid of the Future?

Scientists at MIT have managed to design a next generation, high-tech band aid that they are calling the “Band Aid of the Future.” It is a sticky band, constructed with a stretchable hydrogel substance, which incorporates temperature sensors, LED lights, and drug conveyance systems. The band aid is designed to respond to changes in body temperature that can drive the flow of medicine into the body through the delivery channels.

The LED lights on the band aid light up, as a warning signal, when the medicine is at a low level. Scientists at MIT claim that the rubber-like matter allows the band aid to be placed on any surface or body part as it is flexible and adaptable. Difficult areas like elbows, knees and other joints, which respond poorly to regular bandages, can be covered in this innovative hydrogel element, which is designed to keep the electronic chips intact while adapting to the skin.

The dressing is embedded with electronic devices, like conductive wires, LED light circuits, semiconductor chips, and temperature sensors. Xuanhe Zhao, the lead scientist on the study, said, “Electronics are usually hard and dry, but the human body is soft and wet. These two systems have drastically different properties. If you want to put electronics in close contact with the human body for applications such as health care monitoring and drug delivery, it is highly desirable to make the electronic devices soft and stretchable to fit the environment of the human body. That’s the motivation for stretchable hydrogel electronics.”

MIT
MIT

The next generation hydrogel substance was initially constructed to be fused with hard metal surfaces, like gold, aluminum, and silver. Although they are generally brittle and non-springy, the hydrogels used in these bandages are equipped with a titanium wire network, which enables the band to develop resilient, rubber-like properties. Due to the durability and strength of titanium wires, these bands can be stretched a number of times without causing damage to the internal structure or its electronic conductivity.

The production of constant conductivity allows the band aid to perform as a “smart dressing.” The temperature control and the medicine delivery channels remain unaffected, even when the dressing is stretched to its limits. The drug administration and the temperature variables can be monitored via an electronic circuit, and the team of scientists hopes that these properties can be utilized to treat burns successfully.

The long-term objective of this new innovation is to insert microscopic electronic delivery systems into the human body, such as drug delivery probes, neural probes, and glucose sensors. Zhao explained the numerous future applications of the reformed hydrogel band aid by saying, “The brain is a bowl of Jell-O. Currently, researchers are trying different soft materials to achieve long-term biocompatibility of neural devices. With collaborators, we are proposing to use robust hydrogel as an ideal material for neural devices, because the hydrogel can be designed to possess similar mechanical and physiological properties as the brain.”