Innovation That Matters

Bacteria could generate sustainable light for smart cities


Glowee cultures bioluminescent bacteria in functional shapes to create glowing signs and objects.

As culturing bacteria becomes more accessible, we’re seeing more technologies use their unique characteristics to create smart devices, such as temperature-adaptive clothing and bacteria-powered robots. Glowee, a Parisian startup, believes bacteria could also provide an alternative to electric lights.

Glowee cultures the bacteria that give squid their bioluminescence — the ability to glow in the dark. These bacterial cultures are grown in ‘shells’ that can be customized into functional shapes — such as shop front signs — and requires no external energy source to produce light. Glowee is currently seeking seed funding, and working to extend the lifespan of their cultures (currently limited to three days of light) and the intensity of their glow. The eventual aim for the startup is to use the bacteria as an alternative energy source and power city infrastructure such as light grids.

Where else could we see bacteria-powered light sources be used?



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