For millennia, plants and other organic species have been able to convert ultra-violet radiation from the suns rays into energy that they then turn into a source of food. However, a recent discovery by applied physicist Sudeep Joshi has shown that there’s a way to convert the same age-old process that plants and trees have used into electricity that we can in turn use to power our lives. In fact, the same principle could be carried through to a variety of other organic materials that Joshi thinks could prove that there’s a chance of creating symbiotic, organic plants which could, in turn, be used to generate electricity for human consumption.
In order to create his ‘electric mushroom,’ Joshi and a team of scientists had to find a way to 3D print a series of ‘lines’ on a regular white button mushroom. These ‘lines’ consisted of a blend of graphene and cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria is an important part of the process as it’s known for generating an electrical charge by releasing electrons when hit by photons. The graphene helps to conduct the electricity, and together they form a circuit that makes the mushroom a tiny, organic battery.
When Joshi and his team tested the mushroom under a light, they found that it indeed did generate a tiny charge of electricity! While the charge itself only measured in 7 nanoamperes (literally 7 millionths of the amount of electricity that would be needed to power a 60-watt lightbulb) the results were still encouraging. There’s no way that a single mushroom or even 7 million would be realistic to power something as simple as a lightbulb, but Joshi hopes that the discovery may lead to a new way of approaching ways in which we generate passive green energy. Perhaps in the future, we could imagine trees that generate electricity or actual ‘flower power.’ Who knows? Only time will tell!