Published on 16 Mar 2021

A way to ‘communicate’ with plants using electrical signals

Plant communication device

A team of scientists led by NTU Singapore has developed a device that can deliver electrical signals to and from plants, opening the door to new technologies that make use of plants.

The NTU team developed their plant ‘communication’ device by attaching a conformable electrode (a piece of conductive material) on the surface of a Venus flytrap plant using a soft and sticky adhesive known as hydrogel. With the electrode attached to the surface of the flytrap, researchers can achieve two things: pick up electrical signals to monitor how the plant responds to its environment, and transmit electrical signals to the plant, to cause it to close its leaves. 

With climate change threatening food security around the world, this NTU innovation provides hope that we may one day use plant-based technology to act quickly to maximise crop yield for the population. The NTU approach could also lead to the creation of more sensitive robot grippers to pick up fragile objects that may be harmed by current rigid ones.

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