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spinach is useful

23 September 2016

At http://phys.org/print393744113.html … researchers have used spinach in a novel way in order to take advantage of its interplay with sunlight to produce electricity. The findings are written up in Nature Communications (Sept 2016) and the idea is to take advantage of the way plants photosynthesise. They used the membrane of a spinach leaf (nice fat leaves) to create a photo electro chemical cell that can produce electricity and hydrogen from water and sunlight. The raw material of the device is water – its product is an electric current, hydrogen and oxygen. It is a combination of a man made cell and a plant membrane – nothing to do with Popeye (the sailor) apart from water.

William Thompson adds another leaf to the pot. National Geographic volume 230 no 3 Sept 2016, has a one page picture and text 'Power Pants' – scientists in Sweden have taken ordinary roses from a local flower shop and electrified them by incorporating circuits into the plant's living tissue.

A plant's vascular system transmits chemical signals much as electronic circuits transmit currents. To merge the two, physicists placed the cut end of a rose into a diluted polymer solution. Once absorbed the polymer reorganised itself into an electical wire that extended through the xylem, the system of water transport channels inside the roses's stem.

When asked why by a journalist, the reply was that one day you may be able to plug your phone into a plant (?) by harvesting electricity from the process of photosynthesis

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