Scientists Create 'Bionic Mushroom' That Can Generate Electricity

Scientists create 'bionic mushroom' that can power an LED bulb

Scientists create 'bionic mushroom' that can power an LED bulb

Even more common than the mushrooms are the cyanobacteria that can thrive on the mushrooms.

"In this case, our system - this bionic mushroom - produces electricity", said Manu Mannoor, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens.

As researchers the world over search for alternative energy sources, there has been a sharp rise in interest in cyanobacteria, said a BBC report. About 2.6 billion years ago, cyanobacteria changed the state of the atmosphere forever by pumping oxygen, gradually transforming the planet from a hellish wasteland into a sprawling oasis of life.

Researchers at the Stevens Institute for Technology said the microbes have been known in the bioengineering community to create electricity, but don't last as long because the artificial surfaces used to host the bacteria can't keep it thriving long enough.

Their study published in Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed journal from the American Chemical Society, found properties within the mushroom allowed the cyanobacteria to survive longer while generating electricity.

The "bionic mushroom" was covered with bacteria capable of producing electricity and strands of graphene that collected the current. 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. They manipulated the cyanobacteria to generate electricity for days by attaching it on top of a button mushroom.

The mushrooms essentially serve as a suitable environmental substrate with advanced functionality of nourishing the energy producing cyanobacteria. They say their research shows the possibilities of "engineered symbiosis" between organisms and nonliving materials, which they characterize as different worlds. They proceeded to 3D-print a branched pattern onto its cap, using an electronic ink containing graphene nanoribbons. The cyanobacteria on the mushrooms cap photosynthesized under the light and it sent electrons through the conductive graphene approximately measuring 65 nanoAmps of current.

Shining a light on the mushrooms activates cyanobacterial photosynthesis mechanism, which generates bio-electrons these electrons are driven under an applied bias voltage in an electrochemical setup.

Joshi and Mannoor discovered they could produce more electricity depending on the density and alignment of the bacteria.

Dr Mannoor said: "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other awesome designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields". "For example, some bacteria can glow, while others sense toxins or produce fuel". "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other unbelievable designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields".