An English scientific team has given a new twist to the use of solar energy with the creation of an article that captures this energy thanks to cyanobacteria. These were used as ink for printing with an inkjet printer on electrically conductive carbon nanotubes (also printed). Bacteria not only survive the process, but are capable of photosynthesis after it, allowing energy to be captured.

The creators, a team of researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and Central Saint Martins, call the breakthrough two in one: the biobattery and the solar panel. And, with him, they seem poised to break some of the boundaries he’s encountered so far. a booming field of research: photovoltaic bioenergy (BPV).

So with this role which, With a surface area comparable to that of an iPad, it provides enough energy to power an LED bulb or a digital clock, you can end the scaling difficulties of any BPV-based breakthrough. The fact that a commercially available printer was used for these experiments is the reason why this technology is easy to scale.

Originally designed as paper to line walls, innovation not only has more potential uses, but can also lead to change. Among them, the authors of the report highlight the options open to new sensors entirely produced on paper and, in particular, for the health industry. Could usher in an era of disposable paper sensors to monitor health indicators like the glucose level, in the case of diabetic patients “explains Andrea Fantuzzi, one of the participants in this project.

Another example of the possible uses that this paper could have would be as a measure of the air quality inside a house, but camouflaged in the wallpaper on the wall. “When it has finished its work, it would be enough to remove it from the wall and leave it in the garden to biodegrade, without any impact on the environment “according to Marin Sawa, also a member of the team.

In addition to working through photosynthesis of cyanobacteria, that generate electricity day and night, this printing-based equipment significantly reduces costs, which would facilitate the use of this innovation, also in developing countries.

Until then, the team continues to work. After checking the results on paper by hand, the next goal is to test an A4, to determine the power on a larger scale. Meanwhile, researchers are already arguing that their invention will not replace large-scale solar cells. On the other hand, the basic orientation of this paper is its use for equipment of reduced dimensions and for applications which require small amounts of energy which, thus, would be cleaner, less expensive and, also, biodegradable.

More information in Imperial College London.