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M.I.T. turns spinach plant into explosives detector

Feb 07, 2017, 6:43 AM EST
(Source: Jason Bachman/flickr)
(Source: Jason Bachman/flickr)

A team of engineers at M.I.T. has developed a unique explosives detector by embedding carbon nanotubes in spinach leaves. The system, dubbed as the first demonstration of engineering electronic systems into plants, can detect explosives and wirelessly transfer the information to a handheld device like a smartphone.

The development marks the advent of a new technique called “plant nanobionics,” which researchers say imparts non-native functions to a plant, reports SciTechDaily. Besides applications in the defense and law enforcement fields, the technology holds promise in agriculture, where sensors might track plant health and help boost crop yield.

Juan Pablo Giraldo, an assistant professor of plant physiology at UC Riverside, who has co-authored the research, says the new technology converts plants into solar-powered devices that report to humans about the changes in the environment, notes University of California.

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