Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Researchers Create Bionic Mushroom with Graphene and 3D Printed Cyanobacteria

Researchers Create Bionic Mushroom with Graphene and 3D Printed Cyanobacteria

If the mushroom was shining in the sun or bulb, it produces the desired amount of electricity, namely 65 microamps.

The work, reported in the November 7 issue of Nano Letters, may sound like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland, but the hybrids are part of a broader effort to better improve our understanding of cells biological machinery and how to use those intricate molecular gears and levers to fabricate new technologies and useful systems for defense, healthcare and the environment.

However, the mushroom provides great conditions for the bacteria to thrive, thanks to a combination of nutrients, temperature and moisture, and the scientists found they survived several days longer on the mushroom than on other surfaces. This cyanobacteria creates electricity while graphene nanoribbons pull together the current. In 2016, researchers at Binghamton University used cyanobacteria to make a bio-solar panel and now researchers in New Jersey have integrated the microbes with nanomaterials and mushrooms to generate electricity. Next, utilizing a bio-ink containing cyanobacteria, they 3D-printed a spiral pattern over top of the first pattern.

A team of researchers led by Manu Mannoor and Sudeep Joshi from Stevens Institute of Technology in the USA wanted to engineer an artificial symbiosis between button mushrooms and cyanobacteria.

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'By integrating cyanobacteria that can produce electricity, with nanoscale materials capable of collecting the current, we were able to better access the unique properties of both, augment them, and create an entirely new functional bionic system'. Thus, under the action of light, the microorganisms listed in mushrooms using "biological ink", started to allocate the electric current. Then the scientist Sudeep Joshi suggested that the environment for the bacteria to become mushrooms.

To make their odd bionic mushroom a reality, worldwide scientists printed an "electronic ink" containing graphene nanoribbons. The more densely packed the bacteria, the more electricity they produce, which is where 3-D printing came in handy. With 3D printing, it was possible to assemble them so as to boost their electricity-producing activity eight-fold more than the casted cyanobacteria using a laboratory pipette. Sudeep Joshi, also an author of the study, explained that the white button mushroom nourished the cyanobacteria as well, allowing it to generate electricity far longer than if it was cultivated on a silicone.

In a statement, Mannoor said the study could pave the way for larger opportunities involving bio-electricity.

It is noted that this approach can be combined mushrooms with different microbes: some of them will be able to Shine and others to produce fuel.

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