Imagine planting an onion in place of an injured muscle in a human body. It might sound silly, but a recent study published in the journal “Applied Physics Letters” concluded that onions contain ideal properties so that they can be used as artificial muscles.
Researchers from Taiwan University in Taipei subjected the onions to types of tests to measure their ability to be an artificial muscle. Researchers first removed the layer inside the bulb, then froze the cells and dried them from water so that they would not rupture later.
At the end of the experiment, they added small gold flakes to allow the onion to respond to electric current stun and push it to move.
Ultimately, the researchers found that onions flex, contract and relax in response to an external stimulus, just like muscles. When these scientists chose the appropriate voltage to stun the bulb, it contracted and applied to the cotton ball on which it was exposed.
Plant cells are promising for use in the body, because they can perform many tasks even after they die, unlike many other cells.
Wen Bin Shih, a scientist who participated in the preparation of the study, said that in the past, researchers tried to use live muscle, “but how to keep muscle cells alive has become a problem.”
“We used plant cells because their walls give the muscle strength, whether it is alive or not,” he added.
However, researchers say that there are problems that still exist, and it is difficult to plant onions in the human body, because the electrical voltage required to stimulate movement may be very high.