Giving Solar Power Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

A new discovery combines biology and technology to create what might be the World’s most innovative power source. Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a new type of solar panel that is powered by E. coli – even when the sun is not shining.

How did they make it?

The key worker here is a dangerous bacteria. Some strains of E. coli (Escherichia coli) are potentially sickening for humans and animals, but not when it’s safely stored inside a solar panel. By utilizing E. coli and adding metallic nanoparticles, a lycopene dye, and an electrode, then you get energy. Global News put together an excellent report detailing how this breakthrough was achieved:

This new type of panel solves the inescapable limitation of solar polar: that we can not count on sunlight all day, every day. UBC’s invention would make powering electronics in low light conditions — and even in total darkness — possible. The applications are endless: imagine the potential for use underground, or slimmed down and made portable.

Canada is at the forefront of solar innovation

Now that we know the potential of E.coli, one concern is sustaining power over time, as the lifespan of the bacteria and dye are finite. The next big discovery will see a non-stop perpetual bacteria-based solar panel that operates continuously. The hope is here.

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