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Scientists Create Algae Computer Powered by Photosynthesis

By The Verge

May 17, 2022

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Scientists have used algae to power a low-energy computer chip for six months.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge sealed a colony of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, inside a metal enclosure the size of an AA battery. The unit was then left on a windowsill, according to New Scientist, where the algae photosynthesized, generating a tiny current of electricity that powered an ARM Cortex-M0+ chip.

The system is only a proof of concept, but its creators hope algae-powered chips could be used in future Internet of Things devices. They say the advantage of using algae over traditional batteries or solar power is that it has a smaller environmental impact and could potentially provide continuous power.

"The growing Internet of Things needs an increasing amount of power, and we think this will have to come from systems that can generate energy, rather than simply store it like batteries," Professor Christopher Howe, joint senior author of the paper, said in a press statement. "Our photosynthetic device doesn't run down the way a battery does because it's continually using light as the energy source."

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