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Nov 08, 2018
12:52PM

Novel bionic mushrooms can produce electricity

@airnewss
Scientists, including those of Indian origin, have created a bionic device that generates green power by 3D-printing clusters of cyanobacteria on an ordinary white button mushroom.
 
The researchers took an ordinary white button mushroom from a grocery store and made it bionic, supercharging it with clusters of cyanobacteria that create electricity and swirls of graphene nanoribbons that can collect the current. 
 
Cyanobacteria's ability to produce electricity is well known. However, researchers have been limited in using these microbes in bioengineered systems because cyanobacteria do not survive long on artificial bio-compatible surfaces.
 
The reseacrh team showed that the cyanobacterial cells lasted several days longer when placed on the cap of a white button mushroom versus a silicone and dead mushroom as suitable controls.
 
Researchers used a robotic arm-based 3D printer to first print an "electronic ink" containing the graphene nanoribbons. 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.
 
Next, they printed a "bio-ink" containing cyanobacteria onto the mushroom's cap in a spiral pattern intersecting with the electronic ink at multiple contact points. At these locations, electrons could transfer through the outer membranes of the cyanobacteria to the conductive network of graphene nanoribbons. Shining a light on the mushrooms activated cyanobacterial photosynthesis, generating a photocurrent.
 
In addition to the cyanobacteria living longer in a state of engineered symbiosis, researchers showed that the amount of electricity these bacteria produce can vary depending on the density and alignment with which they are packed, such that the more densely packed together they are, the more electricity they produce. 
 
With 3D printing, it was possible to assemble them so as to boost their electricity-producing activity eight-fold more than the casted cyanobacteria using a laboratory pipette.
 
The research, by Stevens Institute of Technology in the US, is 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 defence, healthcare and the environment.
 

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