Cyanobacteria are known among bio-engineers for their ability to generate small jolts of electricity, but until now it has been hard to keep them alive in artificial conditions. 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.
Densely packed cyanobacteria (green) achieved via 3D printing increases electricity-generating behavior. One big problem is that they do not survive long enough on artificial surfaces to be able to deliver on their power potential.That's where the humble button mushroom comes in. Scientists have created a "bionic mushroom" that can produce electricity - and this powerful fungi could be used to juice up devices and other equipment in the future. Mannoor and Sudeep Joshi, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, wondered if white button mushrooms, which naturally host a rich microbiota but not cyanobacteria specifically, could provide the right environment - nutrients, moisture, pH and temperature - for the cyanobacteria to produce electricity for a longer period.More news: The Magic Continues: From Harry Potter to Fantastic Beasts Featurette
Mannoor and Joshi showed that the cyanobacterial cells lasted several days longer when placed on the cap of a white button mushroom compared to silicone and dead mushrooms used as controls. "The mushrooms essentially serve as a suitable environmental substrate with advanced functionality of nourishing the energy producing cyanobacteria", says Joshi. They say their research shows the possibilities of "engineered symbiosis" between organisms and nonliving materials, which they characterize as different worlds.
Mannoor and Joshi first 3D-printed an "electronic ink" containing the graphene nanoribbons to form a branched network that collects electricity. The cyanobacteria were also 3-D printed as "bio-ink" onto the mushroom's cap in a spiral pattern that intersected with the graphene ribbons. 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. Experts explain the events that light activated the mechanism of photosynthesis, which creates the electrons of biological origin.More news: NYC Protesters Join Call for Acting AG to Leave Russia Probe Alone
Additionally, both researchers discovered that the amount of electricity produced can vary depending on how cyanobacteria are packed together. 3D printing allowed them to assemble the bacteria so as to boost their electricity-producing activity eight times more than cyanobacteria that was casted using a pipette.
"These are the next steps, to optimise the bio-currents, to generate more electricity, to power a small LED", he said.More news: Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations