This has not happened before: the Germans created live batteries

This has not happened before: the Germans created live batteries


German scientists have created the basis for the emergence of food sources based on living microorganisms. “Microbial cyborgs,” as developers jokingly called them, can become a source of electricity for biosensors, bioreactors, or work at the core of fuel cells. All that live food needs is water and a nutrient medium.

Scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) reported the development of the first of its kind battery. Researchers have long been known for the so-called exoelectrogenic bacteria, which in the process of metabolism (vital activity) produce electrons and transport them to the outside of the cells. The problem was to regulate the movement of electrons in a living battery and to ensure the normal and controlled life of a colony of bacteria in the battery.

KIT researchers have been able to develop a nanocomposite material that simultaneously supports the growth of exoelectrogenic bacteria and at the same time conducts current in a controlled manner. “We created a porous hydrogel, which consists of carbon nanotubes and silica nanoparticles intertwined with DNA strands”“, Said project manager Professor Christof M. Niemeyer. Then bacteria were added to the frame Shewanella oneidensis and liquid culture medium. And it worked.

The experiments showed that as the colony of bacteria grew, the electron flux increased. The battery remained stable for several days, during which time it showed electrochemical activity. Scientists are convinced that the composite can efficiently conduct the electrons produced by bacteria to the electrode. Moreover, the battery thus obtained turned out to be programmable. To turn it off, it was enough to add an enzyme that destroys DNA molecules to the nutrient medium for bacteria.

Bacteria are shown in green, DNA in blue, carbon nanotubes in gray, and silica in violet (Niemeyer Lab, KIT)

Bacteria are shown in green, DNA in blue, carbon nanotubes in gray, and silica in violet (Niemeyer Lab, KIT)

Scientists reported on the development in an article in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. It’s premature to talk about any practical achievements on this topic, but it’s interesting. Who knows, maybe someday an implant built into the body will tell its owner: “10% charge left, do not forget to feed the battery”.

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