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Energy-harvesting wallpaper | Photo source Pixabay

Researchers create energy-harvesting wallpaper

Science & Environment

Research in the UK is leading the way to electrical devices made from paper and printed photosynthetic bacteria.

A two-in-one solar bio battery and solar panel has been created by researchers at Imperial College London, UK, who printed living cyanobacteria and circuitry onto wallpaper. Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic microorganisms that have been on Earth for billions of years, and are thought to be the primary reason why the Earth’s atmosphere is oxygen rich.

The team of researchers demonstrated that cyanobacteria could be used as an ink and printed from an inkjet printer in precise patterns onto electrically conductive carbon nanotubes, which were also inkjet-printed onto the piece of paper. It showed that the cyanobacteria survived the printing process and were able to perform photosynthesis so that small amounts of electrical energy could be harvested over a period of 100 hours. A bio-solar panel made in this way, the approximate size of an iPad, could power a simple digital clock, and in separate experiments, a small LED light bulb. The team hope this breakthrough could lead to new forms of electrical devices made from paper and printed photosynthetic bacteria.

Bacteria has been manipulated in many interesting and surprising ways by researchers keen to expand its use and get to know what it can really do. Bacteria-fighting plastics that stop the spread of infection and new research into probiotics that was inspired by gut bacteria in athletes are just two relevant innovations we covered recently. How could an increased knowledge of bacteria further contribute to sustainable electricity production?

Email: d.evanson@imperial.ac.uk

Website: www.imperial.ac.uk

Contact: www.imperial.ac.uk/media/contacts

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