Dec, 2021 - By SMI
Researchers demonstrated how plant roots can become electrically conductive and store energy when watered with a special solution.
A team of scientists at the Linköping University, Sweden found a way to make plant roots electrically conductive to use them as energy storing devices. According to the research published in the journal Materials Horizon on November 3, 2021, the process of making roots of the plant electrically conductive requires a special solution containing conjugated oligomers to water the plant making it capable of storing energy.
Unlike previous studies that used plant cuttings for similar experiments, the team used intact bean plants grown from seed, called as Phaseouls vulgaris, which can polymerize watering solution containing conjugated oligomer ETE-S as a part of natural process. When a conductive film of polymers was formed on roots of the plant, the whole root system transformed into a network of conductors that stayed electrically active for more than four weeks. The researchers used it as supercapcitor, where the roots act as electrodes of the system while charging and discharging.
Moreover, the team found that this system is capable of storing 100 times more energy than the systems that used plant stems in similar experiments in earlier research. This new system also seemed to keep the plant health in good condition, allowing the system to be utilized for longer time. As the scientists claim, the plant grows more complex root system, however, it does not get affected otherwise and keeps on growing and producing beans. According to the team, this study can help create ways to integrate energy systems into plants without harming their natural functions as the electronic roots majorly contribute to the development of smooth communication in biological and electronic systems.
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