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Colibacilli solar cells are developed in Canada
- Jul 18, 2018 -

Canadian researchers recently developed a low-cost new type of bio solar cell, which can convert light into energy by E. coli. The current density of the battery is higher than that of the previous battery, and the efficiency in the dim light is comparable to that in bright light.

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Biological solar cells are solar cells made from living microbes. Prior to the preparation of biological solar cells, the focus is on the extraction of natural pigments used by bacterial photosynthesis, but this is a complex and expensive process that requires the use of toxic solvents and may cause pigment degradation.

According to a news bulletin issued by the University of British Columbia in Canada, researchers chose to keep natural pigments in bacteria. They reformed Escherichia coli by genetic engineering to produce a large amount of lycopene. Lycopene is a kind of pigment that gives the tomato orange red, which can absorb light effectively and transform it into energy.

When the Escherichia coli was reformed, the researchers coated it with a layer of minerals that could serve as a semiconductor, then smeared the mixture on the surface of the glass to make the anode of a solar cell. The experimental results show that the current density of the prepared battery is up to 0.686 mA per square centimeter, and the current density of the same kind of battery is only 0.362 mA per square centimeter.

The researchers said that this is the highest-current bio-solar cell, and the cost of pigment production has been reduced to one-tenth of the previous one. It is optimized and its future work efficiency is expected to be comparable to that of traditional solar cells. They believe that the results will help promote the use of solar energy in rainy weather areas such as British Columbia and Northern Europe.

The researchers also said that their ultimate goal is to find a way to kill bacteria without producing bacteria.

This achievement has been published in the German magazine Smol, which focuses on nanotechnology research.