The new technology — named “plant nanobionics” — involves turning spinach into sensors that can detect explosive materials like nitroaromatics. When the plants’ roots detect this compound, which is often found in bombs and landmines, a signal is emitted via the carbon nanotubes running through the spinach leaves. The signal is then picked up by an infrared camera, which triggers an email alert to researchers, notifying them of signs of climate change. This new experiment is one of the latest breakthroughs within a larger field of engineering which hopes to incorporate electronic components and systems into plants and vegetation.
“Plants are very good analytical chemists,” explains the project’s lead researcher Professor Michael Strano. “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. This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier.”
Elsewhere in the tech world, SpaceX’s latest Starship test launch has once again ended in an explosion.