Increased interest in the capability of bioluminescent organisms, which emit light by way of chemical reaction, has inspired some scientists to propose methods for harnessing this phenomenon in designed products. A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery is developing a self-contained light source that is powered by light-emitting bacteria.
The Biobulb contains E. coli bacteria that have been genetically modified to emit light. The bulb also includes additional organisms required to manage and sustain its light-producing function, such as algae to harvest energy from sunlight, and predatory protists (eukaryotic organisms) to limit bacteria growth and recycle nutrients. Remarkably, this self-enclosed ecosystem is designed to run continuously on sunlight and managed waste; however, in reality, the bulb life is uncertain, due to the delicate balance of the microorganisms and the likely need for occasional recharging. Nevertheless, the Biobulb represents a promising step toward creating a net-zero light source without using conventional renewable energy.
Contact: Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Madison, WI, USA.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future