MIT using spinach and photosynthesis to extract an electrical current

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 11/13/2004 - 10:44.

As NEO looks toward sustainable development, our scientific research and engineering community should become involved in Earth friendly technology development - an interesting example was just reported out of MIT, showing fuel cells in a green light.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the
University of Tennessee, the United States Naval Research Laboratory
and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have found a way to
harness the energy that plants use during photosynthesis to convert
light to energy. They are using the process to extend the life of
batteries in cellular phones, laptop computers and other portable
electronic devices.

While the research is still at an early stage
and scientists say commercial applications are years away, they add
that the discovery chips away at the barriers between nature and

"This really shows that there is a way of using biologically
produced molecules and coupling them directly into applied electronic
circuitry," said Barry Bruce, an associate professor of biochemistry
and cellular and molecular biology at the University of
Tennessee-Knoxville and one of the scientists working on the project.
"This opens up a gateway for applied application, whether you want to
make DNA wires or enzymatically based reactor cells."

This is the
first time scientists were able to extract "something as fundamental as
an electrical current" from photosynthesis, Professor Bruce said. While
previous efforts have produced currents that lasted for a few hours,
this group of scientists produced an electrical current that lasted for
three weeks.

Read entire article at NYTimes

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