Solar Cyborg Bacteria

We’re not the only ones having fun in the sun this summer!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Special bacteria can convert energy into things we need, like fuel. Scientists tried giving them a boost by connecting them to solar cells. But when bacteria touch the metals in those cells they die! Is there a fix for this metallic mess?

Enter Xinyu Wang at Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology in China and colleagues from ShanghaiTech University.

Their genetically engineered bacteria make protective homes out of nanofibers. These are sturdy biological structures that keep bacteria safe, even when they touch toxic materials.

Now, the bacteria can use solar-converting materials to perform chemical reactions…and survive!

With an extra sprinkling of chemical helpers, they’re juiced up to do even more! These metal-bacteria teams can even convert greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into fuel. 

The researchers believe they might one day be helping us combat global warming!

Because one thing’s certain…

We need all hands on deck to make clean green energy!

Reference: Wang, X., Zhang, J., Li, K., An, B., Wang, Y., & Zhong, C. (2022). Photocatalyst-mineralized biofilms as living bio-abiotic interfaces for single enzyme to whole-cell photocatalytic applications. Science Advances, 8(18).