Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Meet the bionic mushroom that can generate electricity

Scientists create 'bionic mushroom' that can power an LED bulb Scientists Create 'Bionic Mushroom' That Produces Electricity
Sandra Phillips | 10 November, 2018, 11:14

The bacteria they used is called cyanobacteria, which produces energy from light like plants. Nevertheless, researchers hope future versions will be more capable of powering up devices, adding that a group of mushrooms could create enough current to power up a LED flashlight.

Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology recently transformed an average white button mushroom into a bionic mushroom by supercharging it with 3D-printed, electricity-generating cyanobacteria clusters and graphene nanoribbon swirls that collect the current.

The cyanobacteria gelled with the mushrooms comfortably.

Cyanobacteria is known for its ability to produce electricity in photosynthesis but past use of these in bio-engineering has been limited by its short life span.

Researchers have created an electricity-producing bionic mushroom by augmenting a white button mushroom from the grocery store with cyanobacteria and graphene.

This served as an electricity-collecting network on the mushroom's cap which acting like a nano-probe and accessed bio-electrons generated inside the cyanobacterial cells.

A bionic mushroom. Image credit: Joshi et al, doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02642.

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In their lab, Mannoor and Joshi were able to get the cyanobacteria to last several days longer when placed on the cap of a white button mushroom than they did when placed on a dead or artificial mushroom. "We are looking to connect all the mushrooms in series, in an array, and we are also looking to pack more bacteria together", said Sudeep Joshi. "We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms".

To make their unusual bionic mushroom a reality, global scientists printed an "electronic ink" containing graphene nanoribbons. It was like a needle sticking into the cyanobacteria cells to find its electrical signals, Mannoor said.

They then printed a bio-ink containing cyanobacteria onto the cap in a spiral pattern, which intersected with the electronic ink at multiple points. When a light was shone on the mushrooms, cyanobacterial photosynthesis was activated and a photocurrent was generated.

"As I mentioned, bacteria possess many other properties beside the electricity production", Mannoor said.

Dr Mannoor said: "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other wonderful designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields".

'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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