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article image‘Iron Man’ super-plant made using nanotech

By Tim Sandle     Mar 18, 2014 in Environment
A team of MIT researchers wants to make plants even more useful by augmenting them with nanomaterials that could enhance their energy production.
Scientists have reported that they have boosted a plants’ ability to capture light energy by 30 percent by embedding carbon nanotubes in the chloroplast, the plant organelle where photosynthesis takes place. Using another type of carbon nanotube, they also modified plants to detect the gas nitric oxide.
Long-term, GizMag notes, the researchers aim to turn plants into self-powered, photonic devices such as detectors for explosives or chemical weapons. The researchers are also working on incorporating electronic devices into plants. They have dubbed this ‘plant nanobionics’.
As a next step, the scientists want to try enhancing the photosynthetic function of chloroplasts isolated from plants, for possible use in solar cells. The MIT team also hopes to create plants that act as biosensors to monitor environmental pollution, pesticides, fungal infections, or exposure to bacterial toxins. Furthermorethe scientists are also working to incorporate electronic nanomaterials and devices, such as graphene, into plants. This would make for a ‘bionic plant’.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Materials. The research is titled “Plant nanobionics approach to augment photosynthesis and biochemical sensing”.
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