Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > 'Lab on a chip' to give growers real-time glimpse into water stress in plants

Ted Boscia/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
From left, Vinay Pagay, Abraham Stroock and Alan Lakso examine a silicon wafer that will be used to build microsensors to monitor water stress in grapevines.
Ted Boscia/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
From left, Vinay Pagay, Abraham Stroock and Alan Lakso examine a silicon wafer that will be used to build microsensors to monitor water stress in grapevines.

Abstract:
Fifteen years ago, when Alan Lakso first sought to enlist Cornell's nanofabrication laboratory to develop a tiny sensor that would measure water stress in grapevines, the horticultural sciences professor ended up back at the drawing board.

'Lab on a chip' to give growers real-time glimpse into water stress in plants

Ithaca, NY | Posted on July 6th, 2009

It wasn't until Abraham Stroock, associate professor of chemical engineering, had a breakthrough of his own that Lakso's vision began to take shape. Stroock's lab recently developed a synthetic tree that mimics the flow of water inside plants using a slab of hydrogel with nanometer-scale pores. At last Lakso had access to the technology to move forward.

The device is an embedded microsensor capable of measuring real-time water stress in living plants. In theory, the sensor will help vintners strike the precise balance between drought and overwatering -- both of which diminish the quality of wine grapes.

"To manage for optimum stress," said Lakso, a researcher at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, "we need to monitor ... exactly what's going on in the vine."

With Vinay Pagay, a graduate student with degrees in computer engineering and viticulture, the team is working at the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility in Ithaca to develop 4-inch diameter silicon wafer protoypes, each containing approximately 100 microsensors. They have also begun collaborating with Infotonics, a firm in Canandaigua, N.Y., that specializes in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), to plan commercialization of the sensors. The partnership applies cutting-edge engineering to practical agricultural concerns.

The team hopes to design a sensor that will transmit field readings wirelessly to a central server; the data will then be summarized online for the grower. The concept has already received attention from E. & J. Gallo Winery in California as well as researchers and industry leaders from Australia, Spain and Italy. "It's not just for the big growers," Lakso said. "We hope the micro-manufacturing will provide low-cost sensors for small growers as well."

Looking ahead, the team is pursuing alternative sensors that could enhance research in fields from food science to forestry. They have begun development of a "multi-use sensor" that redirects water flow inside the plant through a shunt. In this case, the sensor could measure the flow of water and mineral nutrients through the plant, in addition to water stress. Pagay described it as "a lab on a chip."

Beyond winemaking, the technology has implications for manufacturing, food processing and electronics. Team member Taryn Bauerle, assistant professor of horticulture, described how such sensors could be implanted throughout trees in a forest ecosystem to measure water use and nutrient flow on a large scale with unprecedented accuracy. "All of these [researchers'] brains are coming together," she said. "There's no limit to where we can take this type of technology."

Chris Bentley '10 is a student intern with CALS Communications.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Blaine Friedlander
(607) 254-8093

Copyright © Cornell University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Chip Technology

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Discovery points path to flash-like memory for storing qubits: Rice find could hasten development of nonvolatile quantum memory April 5th, 2024

Utilizing palladium for addressing contact issues of buried oxide thin film transistors April 5th, 2024

Sensors

Innovative sensing platform unlocks ultrahigh sensitivity in conventional sensors: Lan Yang and her team have developed new plug-and-play hardware to dramatically enhance the sensitivity of optical sensors April 5th, 2024

$900,000 awarded to optimize graphene energy harvesting devices: The WoodNext Foundation's commitment to U of A physicist Paul Thibado will be used to develop sensor systems compatible with six different power sources January 12th, 2024

A color-based sensor to emulate skin's sensitivity: In a step toward more autonomous soft robots and wearable technologies, EPFL researchers have created a device that uses color to simultaneously sense multiple mechanical and temperature stimuli December 8th, 2023

New tools will help study quantum chemistry aboard the International Space Station: Rochester Professor Nicholas Bigelow helped develop experiments conducted at NASA’s Cold Atom Lab to probe the fundamental nature of the world around us November 17th, 2023

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

$900,000 awarded to optimize graphene energy harvesting devices: The WoodNext Foundation's commitment to U of A physicist Paul Thibado will be used to develop sensor systems compatible with six different power sources January 12th, 2024

Silver nanoparticles: guaranteeing antimicrobial safe-tea November 17th, 2023

Night-time radiative warming using the atmosphere November 17th, 2023

DGIST and New Life Group launched a research project on "Functional beauty and health products using the latest nanotechnology" May 12th, 2023

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project