div data-adroot=””>To meet the ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, the U.S. is going to have to get creative with renewable energy. We can double down on long-established technologies like wind, geothermal, and solar energy, but they aren’t perfect.
For example, solar panel manufacturing comes with a hefty carbon footprint and requires dangerous chemicals. To seek out a more sustainable source of solar energy, scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) are starting small.
Well, more like microscopic: The researchers tricked out bacteria to produce solar electricity, which they hope to scale up for widespread production.
The two types of cyanobacteria they studied, Synechocystis and Nostoc, get their energy through photosynthesis (like plants do). Adding in nanomaterials like carbon tubes can help the bacteria produce significantly more electricity when illuminated by light, according to a new study published in Nature Nanotechnology.
Now, the EPFL lab is working on using the engineered bacteria to create a “living photovoltaic” that mimics the materials found on solar panels.
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