Electronic Plants

Ros i elektroniskt experiment

Integrating electronics in plants for biohybrids systems, plant optimization and monitoring

Principal Investigator: Eleni Stavrinidou 

In the Electronic Plants group we view plants from two different perspectives. First the biological side; plants are the primary source of food, providers of oxygen, they sequester carbon and regulate the ecosystem. Then the technological side; plants synthesise materials, convert sunlight to chemical energy, they are samplers of the environment and have multilevel hierarchical structures.

Our research is driven both from societal needs but also scientific curiosity.

We are developing bioelectronic technologies that will enable us to understand better how plants function, their biological processes. These technologies can be used as tools from plant biologists but can also find application in agriculture and forestry. Currently there is a great need to do that because of the climate change and the increasing population. We need plants that are more resistant to environmental stress and at the same time are more productive. Both of these needs motivate our research.

We are also developing biohybrid technologies. By functionalizing plants with electronic materials we aim to push the boundaries of knowledge and  understand better the interface between natural and artificial. Here the scientific curiosity is the driving force but also the perspective of future technologies such as self powered autonomous systems for energy and sensing.

The E-Plants group is an interdisciplinary team with physicists, engineers, chemists and biologists.
We are always interested in talented people to join the group.
Contact Dr. Eleni Stavrinidou for more details.

 

Research Directions

Bioelectronic devices for plant monitoring and optimization- Tools for plant biologists, agriculture and forestry

We design and develop bioelectronic devices, sensors and actuators, based on organic electronic and iontronic materials for plant interface and perform proof of concept studies both in-vitro and in-vivo. Plant bioelectronic devices define new means for decoding and manipulating plant biology from the cellular level to the organism level. These devices offer unique characteristics including dynamic control of physiology and signalling monitoring with high spatiotemporal resolution and they are compatible with wild type and genetically engineered plants. The goal is to develop technologies that overcome limitations of conventional methods. Focus is given on understanding and enhancing plant responses to environmental stress.

Organic Electronic Ion Pump for in-vivo delivery of phytohormones and dynamic control of plant physiology. Photo credit THOR BALKHED

 

Augmented functionality in plants - Biohybrid systems

We use conjugated oligomers and polymers that self-organize and polymerize in-vivo forming conductors driven by the plants physiology and templated by the plant’s structure. We aim to extend the functionality of these conductors into devices for energy harvesting, storage and sensing. In addition we focus on the fundamentals and gain insight on the abiotic-biotic interface and communication. Can we template electronics in plants? Can we affect plants biochemistry with electronics? Can plants be parts of our technology? All these questions drive our research.

In-vivo polymerized conducting wires in the vascular tissue of rose.In-vivo polymerized conducting wires in the vascular tissue of rose Photo credit THOR BALKHED

 

Stimuli responsive polymers – Multifunctional forest based materials

We are interested in understanding the fundamentals of organic electronic mixed conductors with focus on how their properties change upon electrochemical addressing. In addition we are combining these materials with forest based materials to form multifunctional composites and explore various applications.

Conjugated polymer that swells more than 1000% when electrochemically oxidized. Photo credit THOR BALKHED

 

e-Greenhouse Lab

A unique lab facility that allows plant growth in a controlled environment and development, characterization and integration of electronic devices and materials in plants.

Small 2019.15:1970233

Advanced Science 2020.7:2070009 Advanced Materials Technologies 2020.5:2070017

Research networks
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Hybrid electronics based on photosynthetic organisms
FET-OPEN-01-2016-2017

HyPhOE aims to establish a revolutionary symbiosis between photosynthetic organisms and technology, and to rethink and re-establish the concept of green technology. ….
www.hyphoe.eu

Wallenberg Wood Science Center

WWSC is a joint research center and collaboration between KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology and Linköping University. The base is a donation from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The forest industry is supporting WWSC via the national platform Treesearch.  
www.wwsc.se

Treesearch

Treesearch is Sweden’s so far largest investment in creating a collaboration platform for fundamental research, knowledge and competence building in the field of new materials and speciality chemicals from forest raw material. The platform is a collaboration between academia, industry, private foundations.
www.treesearch.se

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Publications
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2020

Principal Investigator
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Group Members
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E-plant research images
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Iwona Bernacka-Wojcik (postdoc), Eleni Stavrinidou (PI) and Miriam Huerta (postdoc) in the growth facility of e-Greenhouse Lab. Tobacco plants are model systems in plant biology. Thor Balkhed
Experimental setup for analysing stomata response in tobacco leaves during in-vivo controlled delivery of a hormone with the organic electronic ion pump. Thor Balkhed
The capillary-based organic electronic ion pump enables smooth insertion into soft tissue such as leaves. Thor Balkhed
Miriam Huerta, postdoc, evaluating plant physiology with the state of the art LICOR photosynthesis system.
Johannes Gladisch
Johannes Gladisch, PhD student, working on stimuli responsive polymers. THOR BALKHED
A material that can both increase and reduce its volume when exposed to a weak electrical pulse
A thiophene based conjugated polymer with peg side chains exhibits extreme swelling when electrochemically oxidized. THOR BALKHED
Gwennael Dufil, PhD student, demonstrating his experiment to high school students from Norrköping. THOR BALKHED

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LOE
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