Cyborg bacteria covered in tiny solar panels can beat plants at photosynthesis, which means they could be key in creating renewable solar fuels.
Photosynthesis, or the way plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, is crucial for life on Earth — but it’s not a very efficient process. Scientists at a UC Berkeley lab taught bacteria how to cover their own bodies with nanocrystals, which function as tiny solar panels that capture more energy than plants can. The bacteria ended up having 80 percent efficiency, compared to about 2 percent for plants. This form of artificial photosynthesis is a big step toward developing more efficient fuels that generate renewable energy using sunlight. (The results were presented at the 54th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.)
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