Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lichen-Inspired Technology

This article shows how lichens are inspiring new technological advancements:

Here is one excerpt from the article:

"Inspired by crustose lichens, one of the most common lichens that can grow within rocks, with a root-like fungal structure growing within the rock itself and only a crust-like fruiting body above the surface, we designed a novel integrated counter electrode architecture, in which a porous carbon plate (PCP) was used as a conductive substrate and continuous, vertically oriented ordered mesoporous carbon (OMC) monolithic films were rooted in the porous substrate to serve as catalytic layers (Scheme 1). Morphologically, the main body of crustose lichens (thallus) is made up of a few distinct layers. The lowermost layer consists of densely packed fungal hyphae with a root-like structure (rhizines) that can attach the thallus to various substrates such as rocks, plants, buildings, and even coral reefs. The root-like structure not only enables the lichen to adhere strongly to the substrate, thus preventing it from being peeled off by the wind or waves, but it also ensures the symbiont a much larger active area for mineral and water uptake, and photosynthesis. Herein, instead of a condensed flat conductive substrate such as FTO or metal foil, a porous carbon plate with both high conductivity and high mechanical strength was used as the CE substrate. A root-like integrated OMC–C composite structure formed by a precursor inflation pyrolysis process can harvest the electrons that arrive at the counter electrode and transfer them to the catalytic layer/electrolyte interface efficiently."

Pretty cool stuff!


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