At the London Zoo, a fern has started taking its own selfies, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) announced on Tuesday. ZSL scientists had laid the groundwork for the feat earlier this year, with the ultimate aim of using plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a maidenhair fern.

What are Microbial fuel cells?
Microbial fuel cells are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidise organic and inorganic matter and generate current. The electrons produced by the bacteria are transferred to the negative terminal and flow to the positive terminal.

How can plants play role in Microbial fuel cells?
Plants naturally deposit biomatter as they grow, which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil, creating energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.

Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight. On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.

Who is the founder of technology?
The ground-breaking solution was enabled by ultra low-powered technology created by US AI company It works around the clock on any device while consuming such low energy that it can be powered by a small plant.

Source: The Indian Express

Relevant for: GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology