Meditation & Health #25 – Living Wallpaper
By Chu Yun & Guang Xiao
A new invention has put a novel twist on wallpaper — science has literally brought to life this out-of-date aspect of home décor. This technological breakthrough is known as bio-solar wallpaper, and it generates electricity to power simple items in the house.
Through biological photovoltaics (BPV) technology, the cyanobacteria photosynthesize and generate small amounts of electrical energy.
In 2017 a team of researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, and Central Saint Martins printed living cyanobacteria onto electrically conductive carbon nanotubes using cutting-edge inkjet technology, then printed the works onto paper. Though in fact a two-in-one solar bio-battery and panel, this creation resembles the humble wallpaper.
Better Than Solar
Through biological photovoltaics (BPV) technology, the cyanobacteria photosynthesize and generate small amounts of electrical energy. Unlike other solar cells which are solely dependent on sunlight to function, the cyanobacteria within the BPV system enable electricity to be produced both in the presence of light and in the dark.
Compared to traditional sources of solar energy, the bio-solar wallpaper is suitable for temporary use or to power simple items such as clocks or LED lightbulbs. In future it could be used as paper-based environmental sensors for monitoring air quality in homes or monitoring patients with diabetes in a clinical setting.
Moreover, as the printed form of this solar panel is thin and light, it can be conveniently transported. Being biodegradable, it is easy to dispose of without a harmful impact on the environment.
Despite its advantages, one drawback of the invention is the short lifespan of the cyanobacteria. This limits the bio-solar wallpaper to functioning for only 100 hours. Another stumbling block is its high manufacturing cost.
Nevertheless, the impressive invention of bio-solar wallpaper has unlocked possibilities in the realm of alternative renewable energy sources. Increasingly, technological advancement and environmental protection are working hand-in-hand to benefit humans and the planet that gives us life.