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Old Posted Oct 9, 2010, 11:49 PM
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'Jellyfish' smoothies offer solar solutions

- Scientists say by liquidizing the humble Aequorea victoria -- a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish commonly found off the western coast of North America -- they can use the green fluorescent protein (GFP) it contains to create miniature fuel cells. These, say their creators, could be used to power microscopic "nanodevices" that could operate independently inside the human body, helping reverse blindness or fight tumors.

- Zackary Chiragwandi at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden told CNN he has developed a method of generating power at a nano-level by administration a droplet of jellyfish-type GFP onto aluminum electrodes and exposing it to ultraviolet light. The technique, he says, is more foolproof than existing light-powered cells, doing away with the need for expensive and tricky titanium elements found in "Gratzel cells" -- acclaimed solar-power fuel cells that mimic plant photosynthesis.

- Chiragwandi says his cell can even utilize enzymes from fireflies and Renilla reniformis sea pansies to create its own light source, making it completely self-contained. In Chiragwandi's "biophotovoltaic nanodevice," electrons flow through a circuit when light hits the green fluorescent protein. He says this generates a current measuring "tens of nano amperes." The amount may seem negligible, but if scaled up would appear to offer a more efficient power supply than existing solar cells.

- "The output characteristics of the biophotovoltaic nanodevice are comparable with those of earlier reported high efficiency solar cells," says Chiragwandi, adding that the power cells could be deployed within one or two years. "The biological fuels may be a means to independently power nanotechnology embedded in a living organism, such as diagnostic, medical or even communication devices residing within a living organism without need for an external electrical power source," he says.

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