Innovation That Matters

Lightbulb is powered by bacteria

Property & Construction

The Biobulb is a lamp that uses the bioluminescence of bacteria to provide light.

We’ve seen lightbulbs powered by numerous different forms of energy – even gravity – but now a new project from the University of Wisconsin, Madison has developed the Biobulb, a lamp that uses the bioluminescence of bacteria to provide light.

Created by AnaElise Beckman, Alexandra Cohn, and Michael Zaiken – three undergraduates of the university who are currently part of the Frontier Fellows program at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery – the BioBulb essentially consists of a jar that houses a closed ecosystem of bacteria. The bacteria will be a strain of genetically modified E. Coli, which will be mutated with the addition of the gene for bioluminescence. The project was recently successfully crowdfunded on Rockethub, and when the devices go into production they will be able to be used as inexpensive garden lights, emergency illumination and other always-on lighting. The team also hope to investigate different colors and triggers for the luminescence. The video below explains a bit more about the project:


Although the devices use live bacteria, the team have developed techniques to keep each microcommunity from expanding or mutating. If developed further, could an idea like this help provide illumination in poor rural areas that have no access to electricity?

Spotted by: Murray Orange



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