Scientist Create See-Through Synthetic Soil

A research project headed by Dr. Lionel Dupuy from the James Hutton Institute in the UK has led to a rather remarkable discovery – a see-through synthetic soil substitute!

The synthetic composite is called Nafion and was previously used in power generating fuel cells. In its natural state Nafion is opaque and crystalline but when it is saturated with water containing nutrients it becomes a translucent form of mud. It has the ability to act similarly to soil, having retentive qualities that will allow a plant to thrive.

This discovery means that scientists can now obtain a better understanding of root systems and it will also allow them an insight into the rhizosphere (roots and the microbes that exist around them). Dr. Dupuy said: “With this new technique, scientists now have a way to observe soil processes, live and in situ. This is exciting because there are so many things to discover in soil and we don’t know yet what they are.”

Dr. Dupuy’s team will also continue to study Nafion and was to make the synthetic soil process cheaper and more readily available. Dvice said: “Who knows? As we eye long term space travel and establishing moon bases, a synthetic soil may be a potentially valuable growing medium.” A very interesting idea indeed…

Details about the research were published in PLOS ONE in September.

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About Sheniz Raif

I am, and think I have always been, a writer. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to hold a pen and thoroughly enjoy using my words to make people laugh or inspire them. I love going to gigs and am a professional groupie for a couple of awesome bands. I am an avid fan of socializing, football, film, and refusing to grow up! I’m also a proud member of the BODO UK team!