There may be a shortage of electronic components but there’s never a shortage of houseplants.  For certain tasks, plants could take components’ place.
At Sweden’s Linköping University, researchers turned bean plants into electrical circuits by watering them with a solution containing a polymer called poly polystyrene sulfonate, which conducts electricity.
Coated by the polymer, the bean plants’ roots became electrically conductive, creating the possibility that plants could become supercapacitors—electronic components that gather electrical charges quickly and disperse them in a burst—with the roots acting as electrodes.
Previously, the scientists had dosed roses with a solution including a conductive polymer known as PEDOT, turning the roses into transistors. When they substituted a compound called ETE-S, polymers formed in the roses’ tissues that could not only conduct electricity, but also store an electric charge. 
The plants themselves seem unaffected, other than growing more complex root networks. The roses still flower; bean plants still produce edible beans.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has funded research to genetically modify plants to turn them into living sensors that could signal the presence of electromagnetic signals as well as biological, chemical, or radiological dangers.
The plants would emit bioelectrical alarms that could be detected remotely by existing equipment.
It’s not an issue of national security, but bioscientists at MIT have potted plants in little wheeled carts, then watched the plants drive the cart toward light or away from hot surfaces.
Plants already lean toward light, veer away from too much heat, and create electrical signals when they sense these and other environmental changes nearby.
MIT researchers inserted sensors into plants’ tissues to capture those signals. They then ran the faint pulses through an amplifier and routed them to a robot in a plant’s wheeled pot sitting between two lamps, one on and one off. The robot responded to the plants’ “desire” and rolled the cart toward the light source. 
TRENDPOST: The integration of living things and electronic devices will move from the lab to the marketplace, with “electronic plants” finding commercial applications within 10 years.
A plant instructs a robotic cart to drive it toward the light.
Credit: Harpreet Sareen, Assistant Professor, Interaction and Media Design, Parsons School of Design

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