Jellyfish Smoothies: The Next Solar Fuel?

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Scientists in Sweden use substance found in jellyfish to power new solar cell

A jellyfish floats in the Mediterranean sea off the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca August 7, 2006. Sweltering temperatures sweeping Europe have brought a plague of jellyfish to Spain's eastern seashores, forcing holidaymakers to stay out of the sea. REUTERS/Dani Cardona (SPAIN)

There’s nothing more annoying than the sting of a jellyfish. But it turns out the prickly creatures may have more of a purpose than punishing you with their tentacles. Swedish scientists believe  a glowing jellyfish is one source of the raw ingredients for a new solar cell that could even fight blindness or provide cheap energy.

By liquidizing the jellyfish, Zackary Chiragwandi, a scientist at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden says they can use the green fluorescent protein (GFP) it contains to create miniature fuel cells to provide energy for nanotechnology, CNN reports.  The way it works? By applying a droplet of jellyfish-type GFP onto aluminum electrodes and exposing it to ultraviolet light, it then creates power at a nano-level.

Nanotechnology is thought to be the future of medicine, but it is still in its infancy as scientists try to figure out how to power nano-machinery.  Expensive and tricky titanium elements that mimic plant photosynthesis is the current technique used to fuel nanotechnology, but according to Chiragwandi, it isn’t as foolproof as the jellyfish.

So when can we expect jellyfish smoothies to fuel future medical devices? Chiragwandi says within one to two years.

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