Canada developed E. coli solar cells2018-07-25
A bio-solar cell refers to a solar cell made using living microorganisms. Previously, bio-solar cells were prepared with the focus on extracting natural pigments used in 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 press release issued by the University of British Columbia in Canada, researchers at the school chose to keep natural pigments in bacteria. They genetically engineered E. coli to produce lycopene in large quantities. Lycopene is a pigment that imparts orange-red color to tomatoes, which is particularly effective in absorbing light and converting it into energy.
After the E. coli transformation was completed, the researchers applied a layer of mineral that could act as a semiconductor, and then applied the mixture to the glass surface to make the anode of the solar cell. The experimental results show that the current density of the prepared battery can reach 0.686 mA per square centimeter, while the current density of the same type of battery is only 0.362 mA per square centimeter.
The researchers say 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.