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MIT's bionic plants could be used as energy factories and sensors


In many ways, plants are ideal technology hosts -- they're outdoor-friendly, self-healing and pollution-free. It only makes sense, then, that MIT scientists want to harness that potential by augmenting our leafy friends with nanotechnology. The researchers have found that injecting nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes into a plant can extend its natural abilities, or add functions that would be tricky to replicate with purely synthetic devices. One lab test supercharged photosynthesis, extracting much more energy than normal; another introduced gas sensors that could detect the nitric oxide from a car's exhaust. There's a lot of necessary refinement before bionic plants are practical, but we won't be surprised if our gardens eventually double as energy sources and air quality monitors.

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