Andrew Adamatzky from the University of West England conducted a series of tests with four-day-old lettuce seedlings. (Agencies)
To create bio-wires, he bridged two electrodes made from conductive aluminum foil with a seedling that was placed onto the electrodes in drops of distilled water.
Then, he applied electrical potential between electrodes ranging from 2 to 12 volts, and calculated the seedling's so-called potential transfer function that shows output potential as a fraction of input potential - the amount of energy produced relative to energy put in.
He found that resistance of the seedling repetitively changed with time or oscillated. He determined that, roughly, the output potential was 1.5-2 V less than the input potential.
This meant that the resistance showed aperiodic oscillations, and thus, the wire was "somewhat noisy".
Such noise, he admitted, is not ideal for creating sensors, because energy gets wasted, 'LiveScience' reported.
But once new methods are developed for reliable routing of the plant roots between living and silicon components, it may be possible to incorporate plant wires into bio-hybrid self-growing circuits, he said.
For this to happen, researchers will have to "find a way of navigating plant roots in labyrinths," Adamatzky said.
Almost any living creature, including humans, can conduct electricity and therefore be used as wires, Adamatzky said.
The problem is, not all creatures can remain motionless and without degrading for a long period of time. But plants can — provided they get enough light, water and minerals.
While the lettuce-based prototype was a success, Adamatzky insisted that talking about getting the bio-wires out of the lab and onto the market was at the moment premature; there are a lot of challenges to be overcome before the wires can become commercially viable, he said.
Andrew Adamatzky from the University of West England conducted a series of tests with four-day-old lettuce seedlings.