A team of scientists from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, are now working to use spinach to transform the production of prosthetic limbs. A project is underway to use green chemicals inside spinach leaves to bring metallic nanoparticles embedded in plastics back to the surface to form a conductive circuit. The practical applications range from antimicrobial surfaces to smart prosthetics. The work has implications for increased prosthetic functionality and patient-specific customization of devices.
The project, called Photobioform II, is led by Professor Marc Desmulliez, PhD, head of the university’s Institute of Sensors, Signals, and Systems within the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded the project about US $1 million under its Manufacturing with Light program, and the research team, working in collaboration with Leeds University, England, also has support from manufacturers, such as Chas. A. Blatchford & Sons, Basingstoke, England.
Photobioform II uses plants, such as spinach leaves or carrots, to accelerate the production of metals originally present in treated plastic materials. Selective formation of metallic nanoparticles in plastics has a wide range of uses including the generation of conductive tracks for electronics interconnections, the creation of antimicrobial surfaces, and the fabrication of sensors and actuators. These applications could find commercial interest in companies that specialize in manufacturing mobile phones, smart surfaces, medical devices for hospitals, and prosthetic limbs.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Heriot-Watt University.