A group of scientists from the organic electronics laboratory of Linkoping University in Sweden, led by the university’s assistant professor Eleni Stavrinidu, turned the roots of living plants into batteries.

The authors of the new work used live plants, they took ordinary beans and watered them with an aqueous solution containing the conjugated oligomer ETE-S, which was absorbed into the root tissue, creating a conductive polymer film.

The biologists continued to water the plant until it grew, bloomed, and began to bear fruit. During the work, the beans lived during their natural cycle, but at the same time, the aboveground part and roots began to conduct electricity.

The roots of the plant remained electrically conductive for about a month. The conductivity was 10 Siemens per centimeter. Scientists investigated how efficient the roots would be for storing energy. To test this, they created a supercapacitor in which the roots functioned as electrodes during charging and discharging.

Earlier in 2015, such an experiment was carried out with roses. Compared to flowers, beans have increased the stored energy by 100 times. The researchers note that their method will help to efficiently store energy without harming the environment.

According to the authors, the beans had a developed fibrous root system, which perfectly suited the main task – the accumulation of charge.

The plant develops a more complex root system, but otherwise it does not affect it: it continues to grow and produce beans.

Eleni Stavrinidou, Associate Professor and Principal Investigator of the Electronic Plants Group at the Laboratory