Scientists Create Bionic Mushroom That Can Generate Electricity

Posted: Nov 11 2018, 5:47am CST | by , Updated: Nov 11 2018, 5:58am CST, in Latest Science News


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Scientists Creat Bionic Mushroom that Generates Electricity
Credit: Sudeep Joshi/Stevens Institute of Technology

The idea could have potential as an alternative energy source.

Researchers have found an unusually simple way of producing electricity. They have taken an ordinary white button mushroom and turned it into a bionic system by covering it with clusters of cyanobacteria and graphene nanoribbons. The resulting combination was able to produce a small amount of power.

The process could lead to more powerful products as viable options to make electricity.

"In this case, our system – this bionic mushroom – produces electricity," said Manu Mannoor, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.

"By integrating cyanobacteria that can produce electricity, with nanoscale materials capable of collecting the current, we were able to better access the unique properties of both, augment them, and create an entirely new functional bionic system."

Bacteria, the tiniest organisms on the planet, have such a rich diversity that some of them are even capable of generating their own electricity. For instance, cyanobacteria produce energy through plant-like photosynthesis, but they do not last long enough on artificial surfaces.

Researchers at Stevens have found that cyanobacterial cells can survive several days when placed on the top of a white button as it can supply nutrients and moisture to bacterial life living on it.

"The mushrooms essentially serve as a suitable environmental substrate with advanced functionality of nourishing the energy producing cyanobacteria," said researcher 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."

Researchers used a 3D printer to create two types of electronic ink patterns, one containing cyanobacteria and other containing graphene nanoribbons. Graphene nanoribbons act as a network that collects the current. By putting these two 3D printed patterns on the cap of mushroom, researchers harvested a small amount of bio-electricty.

The bionic mushroom was able to produce an electric current of about 65 nanoAmps. However, the amount of electricity they produce can vary depending on the density and structure of electronic ink patterns wrapped around the mushroom. The more dense the patterns are, the more electricity they produce.

"With this work, we can imagine enormous opportunities for next-generation bio-hybrid applications," said Mannoor. "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 amazing designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields."

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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