Scientists Create Electricity Through Mushrooms and Bacteria

Stevens Institute of Technology

The researchers put a light on the mushroom to spur photosynthesis in the cyanobacteria - thus starting the photocurrent.

The researchers were able to power an LED bulb with their so-called "bionic mushrooms".

Cyanobacteria's ability to produce electricity is well known in bioengineering circles.

USA researchers have successfully tested the rather whacky idea of producing electricity from a mushroom covered in bacteria.The scientists used 3D printing to attach clusters of energy-producing bugs to the cap of a button mushroom.The fungus provided the ideal environment to allow the cyanobacteria to generate a small amount of power.The authors say their fossil-free "bionic mushroom" could have great potential.As researchers the world over search for alternative energy sources, there has been a sharp rise in interest in cyanobacteria.These organisms, widely found in the oceans and on land, are being investigated for their abilities to turn sunlight into electrical current.

The authors say their fossil-free "bionic mushroom" could have great potential.

A regular shop-bought mushroom has been turned into an electricity generator in a process scientists hope will one day be used to power devices, writes the Independent. The artificial network acts as a junction for the electricity by accessing bio-electrons generated inside the cyanobacterial cells. They say their research shows the possibilities of "engineered symbiosis" between organisms and nonliving materials, which they characterize as different worlds.

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As for collecting the current, the team used a robotic arm doubling as a 3D-printer to create what they call an "electronic ink" made of graphene nanoribbons-tiny strips of graphene seen as alternatives to silicon semiconductors. In order to capture the energy superconductive graphene nanoribbons were also printed in a particular pattern that crossed path with bacteria, capturing the electrons that were released on the surface of the bacteria layers.

The researchers showed that the amount of electricity the bacteria produce can vary depending on the density and alignment with which they are packed - the more densely packed together they are, the more electricity they produce.

'With this work, we can imagine enormous opportunities for next-generation bio-hybrid applications, ' Mannoor said.

In addition, the team is looking into how to produce higher electrical currents using the bionic mushrooms, which would make them more useful. "For example, some bacteria can glow, while others sense toxins or produce fuel", said Mannoor.

'By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other fantastic designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields'.

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