A plant has taken the botanical world’s first selfie during a trial completed by the Zoological Society of London.
Scientific trials involving a fern called Pete saw it “take” photographs of itself every 20 seconds. It did this by using the energy it had generated to power a camera.
Scientists said the ability of plants to produce energy to supply fuel cells could revolutionise wildlife monitoring.
The technology could help scientists learn more about remote rainforests.
The ultimate aim is to use plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild.
How plant energy works?
- Under sunlight, plants produce sugars and oxygen from water and CO2 (photosynthesis)
- These sugars do not remain in the leaves, but are transported throughout the plant to the stem and roots
- Some of these sugars are excreted by the roots as a waste product from the plant
- Soil micro-organisms break this down further, releasing energy.
- This energy is captured using an anode (minus) and a cathode (plus) and charge a super capacitor
- When the super capacitor is full, the power is discharged and a photo is taken
Most power sources have limits – batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight – but plants can survive in the shade
A single fuel cell can generate 0.1 milliWatts of power. The trial used cells connected together to take a photo every 20 seconds.