Scientists Create ‘Bionic Mushroom’ That Can Generate Electricity


So the scientists from the Stevens Institute of Technology in the USA developed a clever method of marrying the mushroom to the sparky bugs.Appropriately enough, they came up with the idea while having lunch!"One day my friends and I went to lunch together and we ordered some mushrooms", said Sudeep Joshi, a postdoctoral researcher and author of the study."As we discussed them we realised they have a rich microbiota of their own, so we thought why not use the mushrooms as a support for the cynaobacteria". For good reason, actually.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, is part of a wider effort by scientists to understand how biological machinery can be hijacked and put to good use.

Researchers from Stevens Institute of technology have transformed an ordinary button mushroom from the grocery store into something bionic.

Although one so-called bionic mushroom produces only a small amount of bio-electricity, the scientists are working to connect a number of them in an array that could power a small lamp. While one button bionic mushroom won't make a massive dent, the team is now working on a way to link them together to provide more power.

Cyanobacteria's electricity-production abilities are well-documented, but the microbes can't survive for long when integrated into synthetic materials. They manipulated the cyanobacteria to generate electricity for days by attaching it on top of a button mushroom.

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The two researchers first used a robotic arm-based 3D printer to print an electronic ink containing the graphene nanoribbons, which served as an electricity-gathering network. It was printed in a pattern that enables them to capture the electrons released through the outer membrane of the bacteria which interacts with the mushroom. Researchers also put in graphene nanoribbons to collect the current. The more densely packed the bacteria, the more electricity they produce, which is where 3-D printing came in handy.

"Right now we are using cyanobacteria from the pond, but you can genetically engineer them and you can change their molecules to produce higher photo currents, via photosynthesis", said Sudeep Joshi.

"With this work, we can imagine enormous opportunities for next-generation bio-hybrid applications", Mannoor said.

It is noted that this approach can be combined mushrooms with different microbes: some of them will be able to Shine and others to produce fuel. "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realize many other wonderful designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defense, healthcare and many other fields".

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