Bionic Mushrooms Turn Light Into Electricity

Bionic Magic Mushroom, 3D printed bacteria and Fibonacci patterned nanoribbons.

A new paper out of the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey details a new kind of magic mushroom. Hoping to create a new source of renewable energy, a team of researchers has engineered a symbiotic relationship between the common button mushroom, some 3D printed cyanobacteria and electrodes made of graphene nanoribbons. The results were a success and a living mushroom that can turn light into harvestable electricity was created.

To build this bionic mushroom researchers used 3D printing. Taking a button mushroom and printing nanoribbons on it in an expanding Fibonacci pattern, then printing the bacteria with “bioink” in a spiral shape on top of the mushroom.

Mushrooms proved to be better than artificial materials at providing the bacteria with nutrients and humidity. Cyanobacteria were chosen because how good at photosynthesis they are, “with an unmatched internal quantum efficiency of nearly 100%” according to the authors.

The team assembled an “engineered bionic symbiosis,” putting together natural and artificial elements into a stable network. Ultimately they could shine a light on the mushroom, and when the cyanobacteria produced electric current, the nanoribbons would transport the energy out of the mushroom and through the wires into the instruments.

The study’s authors conclude, “The presently developed 3D printed bionic mushroom architecture is an environment-friendly and green source of photosynthetic bioelectricity.”



Photo Adapted from: “Magic Mushroom” by Leo Schleeo is licensed underCC BY 2.0