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Spinach sending emails: study on plant signalling with nanotubes

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists.

This experiment is part of a wider field of research which involves engineering electronic components and systems into plants. The technology is known as “plant nanobionics”, and is effectively the process of giving plants new abilities.

“Plants are very good analytical chemists,” explains Professor Michael Strano who led the research. “They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves.”

Read the complete article at www.euronews.com.

ACS Omega 2020, 5, 38, 24367–24378 Publication Date: September 15, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.0c02673 


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