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Can bacteria also be used as solar cells?
- Jul 11, 2018 -

According to a recent news from the University of British Columbia's (UBC) official website, researchers at the school have developed an inexpensive and sustainable way to use bacteria to convert light into energy to make solar cells. This new battery produces a higher current density than before. Classes are more powerful and work in dim light as well as in bright light.

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The researchers said that this is an important step in the widespread adoption of solar cells in places like Scandinavia and British Columbia where there is more rainy weather. As technology advances, this type of bio-organic material - biogenic solar cells are comparable in efficiency to synthetic batteries used in traditional solar panels.

In the past, when bio-derived batteries were built, the natural pigment used for bacterial photosynthesis was extracted. However, this method is costly and complicated, requires the use of toxic solvents, and may cause pigment degradation.

To solve the above problems, the researchers left the pigment in the bacteria. They genetically engineered E. coli to produce large amounts of lycopene. Lycopene is a pigment that imparts red color to tomatoes and is particularly effective for absorbing light and converting it into energy. The researchers applied a mineral that could act as a semiconductor to the bacteria and then applied the mixture to the glass surface. They used coated glass as the anode of the battery to produce a current density of 0.689 mA/cm2, while other researchers in the field achieved a current density of only 0.362 mA/cm2.

“We have documented the highest current density of bio-derived solar cells. We are developing these hybrid materials to make them economical,” said Vikram Di Yadav, project manager and professor of UBC's Department of Chemistry and Bioengineering. And a sustainable method of manufacturing, and the final efficiency is comparable to traditional solar cells."

Yadav believes that this process will reduce the production cost of pigment by 10%. Their ultimate dream is to find a way to kill bacteria without making bacteria. In addition, this bio-derived material can be widely used in mining, deep-sea exploration and other low-light environments.