What is organic internet of things

New biosolar cell developed for the Internet of Things

A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham has developed a new biosolar cell that could be used to operate small, energy-saving devices in the Internet of Things. At the moment, the cell could provide electricity for about four days. A big step forward compared to similar biofuel cells, which previously only lasted a few hours.

The new biosolar cell measures 3.5 x 2.5 centimeters and generates electricity via two different types of bacteria that are in a symbiotic relationship with one another. One of the bacteria is photosynthetic and uses sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to convert it into nutrients. The other bacterium consumes this “food” and supplies the energy for the cell through what is known as metabolic respiration. In a first experimental setup, two bio-solar cells are integrated on a single chip and connected in series, which continuously generates electricity.

According to the team, the design enables versatile device configuration on a small scale without a cumbersome supply system for liquids and allows easy integration and operation. The device is sealed with a gas-permeable polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) membrane to facilitate gas exchange with the bacteria and cathodic reactions, ideally even refilling bacterial gases from environments for self-supporting energy generation.

In order to increase the operating voltage from (~ 500 mV) to a maximum output voltage of> 3V, a DC-DC booster circuit is integrated into the stacked bio-solar cells in a first demonstration (photo above), which has an on-chip Light emitting diode (LED) supplied with power.

The researchers assume that the new biosolar cell has the potential for the "Internet of Disposable Things" (IoDT). They believe that the new cell will be able to connect short-lived products using radio frequency sensors made from biodegradable paper and plastic. If it is further optimized, it could drive longer-term applications of IoT sensors in the environmental sector.

The results of the study will be published in the June 2020 issue of Nano Energy magazine.

Dennis Knake

Dennis Knake is a trained editor and has been responsible for communications in the IT industry for many years. For over two decades he has been writing regularly on IT / IoT topics, telecommunications and the IT market in general.