Plants have been used for a lot of purposes over the years. Other than food and decoration, they have helped in creating clothing, lumber for construction, soaps and oils for showers, a huge variety of dyes for fabrics and other more artistic methods, and so much more.
Now, researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have taken roses and combined them with a specially designed polymer to make them transfer electricity. This has essentially turned them into organic capacitors.
Polymers Into Capacitors
The original research on this topic occurred back in November of 2015, where a hydrogel polymer capable of transferring electricity was injected into a rose specimen. Inside of the stem, the hydrogel formed into wire shapes with electrodes and a gate, making it a fully functional transistor.
Continuing with that vein of discovery, one of the scientists involved kept working on the polymer side of things. They were trying to make a more specialized substance that wouldn’t require activation or any outside input at all. Also, they needed to get around the localization issue of the material only staying in the injected portion of the rose.
A Rose By Any Other Name
This was recently accomplished, with the new fluid becoming a complete part of the rose and traveling through its venous structure into not just the stem, but also the leaves and the rose petals. The rose’s very own biochemical response to the fluid is what activates its formation into wires and systems.
Many tests since in charging the rose with electricity has seen no fall-off in performance or capability and the primary researcher has stated that the amount of electricity storage is equivalent to many kinds of supercapacitors used in modern systems.
The new system of utilizing electricity has been dubbed in the past as electronic plants or “e-Plants”. Plans for future steps include making not just roses, but other plants into completely autonomous energy systems that can store and transfer energy to other places. Sensors and other systems can potentially be applied, with far-reaching, but as yet unknown effects.
Honestly, Who Can Guess?
It’s not entirely clear at this point what benefit or use this technology will have, but it clearly appears to be an astonishing accomplishment that may be of vital importance in the future. Perhaps as a part of electrical systems in space or on other planets, as one suggestion.
Photo CCs: Rosa Red Chateau01 from Wikimedia Commons