Researchers attached energy-producing bacteria to the cap of a mushroom, shone light on it and found it generated a small amount of electricity when it was collected by a 3D-printed nanotech scaffold.
White button mushrooms host a rich microbiota but not cyanobacteria specifically, prompting Mannoor and postdoctoral fellow Sudeep Joshi, to ask if agaricus bisporus could provide the nutrients, moisture, pH and temperature for the cyanobacteria to produce electricity for a longer period.
Despite research projects examining how cyanobacteria could be used to make electricity, their use in power generation is limited by the fact that they cannot survive for long on artificial surfaces.
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At locations where the spiral pattern intersected with the electronic ink, electrons were able to transfer through cyanobacteria outer membranes to the conductive graphene ribbons.
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. Then the scientist Sudeep Joshi suggested that the environment for the bacteria to become mushrooms. 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. "We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms". The researchers put a light on the mushroom to spur photosynthesis in the cyanobacteria - thus starting the photocurrent.
"What we show in this paper is an approach utilizing a multi-material 3d printing to integrate and seamlessly merge (you can also say sort of "marrying") the "smart" properties of these both worlds - one of biological living micro-organisms and the other of abiotic functional nanomaterials", Mannoor wrote in an email. The cyanobacteria could play a massive role in powering other applications as a green solution. "By seamlessly integrating these microbes with nanomaterials, we could potentially realise many other unbelievable designer bio-hybrids for the environment, defence, healthcare and many other fields".