Scientists successfully engineer electricity-generating bionic mushrooms

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A team of researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology in the United States has successfully engineered a bionic mushroom that uses graphene to produce electricity.

"The covert biological microworld is comprised of a plethora of microorganisms which holds astounding, yet untapped functionalities, that offer enormous opportunities for exploration. These microbial species coexist, efficiently interact, and perform incredible tasks to maintain self-sustaining microbiota," said the researchers.

During the study, researchers found that fitting a 3D printed pattern of graphene nanoribbons and bio-ink containing cyanobacteria on the mushrooms cap generated electricity. The cyanobacteria on the mushrooms cap photosynthesized under the light and it sent electrons through the conductive graphene approximately measuring 65 nanoAmps of current.

"Our 3D-printing approach could be used to organize other bacterial species in complex arrangements to perform useful functions, such as bioluminescence," said the researchers, reports.

Even though this current is not sufficient enough to power an electronic device, researchers who took part in this study believe that more numbers of bionic mushrooms if worked together could produce enough power required to light up an LED bulb.

This team of researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology comprised of Manu Mannoor, Sudeep Joshi and Ellexis Cook are now working on ways to generate higher currents through this system.

A year back, a team of Scottish researchers developed a rubber filament that generates electricity when stretched. Experts believe that this new technology could be used as an alternative for batteries during surgical implants.

Dorina Opris, a researcher who took part in this study revealed that this material is even capable of producing electricity from the heartbeat. As per experts, implanting this rubber filament near the heart could provide power for the functioning of pacemakers or other surgical implants, thus eliminating the need for invasive operations to change the battery.

This article was first published on November 9, 2018