Collaborative Research: Development of Self-biased Solar Microbial Electrolysis Cells (University of California-Santa Cruz)
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have developed a working prototype for a solar-driven microbial photoelectrochemical cell (solar MPC). The cell transforms bio-degradable waste products into electricity and/or chemical fuels with the help of the Sun and micro-organisms.
The solar MPC will provide an alternative source of energy with minimal impact on the environment. The research also offers new opportunities to integrate biological material with semiconductor devices. The technology could find applications in a wide range of areas from biomedical research to environmental protection and energy conversion.
In conventional bioelectrical cell technologies, bacteria breakdown waste products but require a significant amount of power to generate hydrogen gas. The Santa Cruz research solves that problem by using sunlight to provide extra power. To produce hydrogen gas and other chemical fuels, the solar MPC uses electrons--negatively charged particles--produced by chemical changes in bacteria to power semiconductor nanowires. The MPC can sustain a current up to 0.2 mA from a 30 ml solar MPC. In early studies the device operated for more than 50 hours.
nanoLAB provides point-of-care screening for infectious diseasesResearch Areas: Engineering Locations: California
Fundamental study of nanoparticle behavior helps assess water treatment optionsResearch Areas: Engineering Locations: California