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News Picks : Using nanotechnology to create bionic plants

By: Physics Today
18 March 2014
New Scientist: To enhance plants’ ability to photosynthesize, researchers have been experimenting with augmenting plant chloroplasts by inserting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Michael Strano of MIT and colleagues coated SWNTs with molecules of DNA, whose charge caused the particles to be sucked into and trapped in still-active chloroplasts extracted from plants. The modified chloroplasts showed both increased photosynthetic activity and increased electron transport rates. Why is unknown: The nanotubes may act as semiconductors, or they may increase plants’ ability to obtain energy by harnessing a wider range of light wavelengths. Whatever the reason, such bionic plants could have many uses, such as to make a better fuel cell or create living electronic devices.


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