Bionic 'Wonderland' Mushroom Unlocks New Insights Into Creating Electricity

Federico Mansilla
Noviembre 9, 2018

Shining a light on the structure activated the bacteria's ability to photosynthesise, and as the cells harvested this glow they generated a small amount of electricity known as a "photocurrent".

The work, reported in the November 7 issue of Nano Letters, may sound like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland, but the hybrids are part of a broader effort to better improve our understanding of cells biological machinery and how to use those intricate molecular gears and levers to fabricate new technologies and useful systems for defense, healthcare and the environment.

And they believe an array of these bionic mushrooms, could generate enough electricity to light up an LED.

Cyanobacteria, which is common on land and oceans, have always been known to produce electricity. To harvest that photosynthetic power, scientists have synthetically engineered a mutualistic relationship between microbes and a host mushroom in order to produce electricity.

In U.S. Technology Stevens Institute in new Jersey, scientists were able to produce electricity with the help of fungi.

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Bionic mushrooms are the first examples of a completely eco-friendly way to generate electricity as each of the parts that are involved in the process are completely green and recyclable. "As we discussed them", said Sudeep Joshi, the author of the new study, "we realised they have a rich microbiota of their own, so we thought why not use the mushrooms as a support for the cyanobacteria".

He added, "We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms", reports Newsweek. Then, on the ribbon with a 3D printer, have caused "biological ink" from Cyanobacteriae, which are able to produce electricity under the action of the Sun, but are unable to live long on artificial surfaces. This printed branched network serves as an electricity-collecting network atop the mushroom's cap by acting like a nano-probe - to access bio-electrons generated inside the cyanobacterial cells. An electrode network of graphene nanoribbons was used to collect the current.

In addition, the team is looking into how to produce higher electrical currents using the bionic mushrooms, which would make them more useful.

"What we show in this paper is an approach utilizing a multi-material 3d printing to integrate and seamlessly merge (you can also say sort of "marrying") the "smart" properties of these both worlds - one of biological living micro-organisms and the other of abiotic functional nanomaterials", Mannoor wrote in an email. "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realise many other wonderful designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defence, healthcare and many other fields".

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