Developing a Printed Solar Biobattery for use in Bioelectronics

There is an urgent need to develop a sustainable battery technology that is cheap, environmentally friendly, easy to fabricate and to dispose of, especially to tackle the worldwide increase in illegally dumped electronic waste. Dr. Marin Sawa from Imperial College London joined us at the Arm Research Summit to share her research into microbial biophotovoltaic technology.

Microbial biophotovoltaic (BPV) technology is a renewable bioenergy system currently being developed at the laboratory scale. It generates electricity from the photosynthetic metabolism of cyanobacteria and microalgae and exploits their ability to convert light energy into electrical current using water as the source of electrons. Innovative approaches are needed to solve scale-up issues such as cost, ease of fabrication (particularly the fabrication of the inorganic and biological (microbes) parts). In this talk, Dr. Sawa will report the feasibility of using a simple commercial thermal-inkjet printer to fabricate a thin-film paper-based BPV cell consisting of a layer of cyanobacterial cells on top of a carbon nanotube conducting surface on plain copy paper. The digitally printed thin-film BPV system produced electricity both in the light and dark, with a maximum electrical power output of 0.38 mW m-2 in one system and the sustained electrical current production over 100 hours in another more fully printed system. She will address limitations and challenges as well as possible applications in the area of printed bioelectronics.

About Dr. Marin Sawa

Dr. Marin Sawa is a Research Associate working with Prof. Klaus Hellgardt in the Chemical Engineering Department at Imperial College London. She is a biodesigner investigating the ecological intersection between design and biotechnology. Biodesign is an emerging field not only in arts and design but increasingly in sciences, that exploits living organisms and living matter in design strategies often for ecological solutions. Her focus has been on generating new applications of photosynthetic microorganisms, algae and cyanobacteria, in the areas of food, energy and air purification – the main pillars of life. These organisms play as an important role in removing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen as plants, but have faced many bottlenecks in scale-up due to cost-intensive bioprocesses.

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The Arm Research Summit 

The Arm Research Summit will be taking place in the USA for the first time this September! Join researchers, academics and industry experts from around the us in Austin, Texas for the fourth annual Summit, and benefit from talks, workshops, demos and plenty of opportunities to discuss your own work and interests in networking sessions.

More details on how you can submit your own work, or learn from leading researchers and academics from around the world at this year’s Summit will be available soon. Register your interest now and be the first to know when our Call for Submissions and Early Bird Registration opens! 

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