All species, animal or plant depend on the Sun to live; either directly or indirectly. Most of the energy we have on our Planet comes from the Sun, and the first converters of this energy are plants; the green-leafed plants to be precise. These plants make food for herbivores, which are then preyed upon by other non-herbivorous animals. That is the nutshell explanation this article has to offer.
However, much we depend on plants as the primary converter of Sun’s energy into the life force that sustains all living organisms. Scientists say that plants are not very efficient, and there is a significant untapped potential from the Sun. The assertion being put forth is that chlorophyll, the green pigments found in plants, which harvests sunlight and combines with carbon dioxide and water to produce energy, is not as effective.
Therefore, a group of researchers from the University of California has come up with an ingenious idea of teaching bacteria (yes giving bacteria lessons) to attach themselves to tiny but highly efficient solar panels to produce fossil fuel.
These man-made miniature solar panels beat nature-made ones, the chlorophyll pigments found in plants. In essence, the researchers are creating cyborg bacteria to produce fossil fuel; they are actually using the E. coli bacterium. They have taught the bacteria to cover themselves up with those tiny solar panels to produce useful compounds.
Kelsey K Sakimoto from UoC said, “Rather than rely on inefficient chlorophyll to harvest sunlight, I have taught bacteria how to grow cover their bodies with tiny semiconductor nanocrystals.
These nanocrystals are much more efficient than chlorophyll and can be grown at a fraction of the cost of manufactured solar panels.”
This technology comes at a time when humans are alarmed at the rate we are using fossil fuels. Soon the oil reserves are going to dry up, and we need to find an alternative fuel sooner rather than later.
This technology was first designed in October 2016, when researchers at the ETH Zurich’s Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel created a hybrid creature out of the E. coli bacterium. The creature is half living organism and half machine; making a cyborg.
E. coli bacterium is frequently used for biological research by scientists. The half machine part comprises of a miniature computer fitted with state of the art technology to control and regulate the growth of the bacterium.
The organism is linked to the machine using two interfaces; the computer communicates using red and green light. The bacteria (modified biologically) get instructions from these lights. In return, communication from the bacterium to the computer is via optical measurement; where the rate of growth of the bacteria culture is recorded and fed into the computer in real-time.