Even though just about every other facet of technology continues to advance, it feels like batteries still have a very long way to go. How is it that after all this time, we still need to charge our smartphones at least once a day? It turns out that a bacteria battery could be the answer. Or at least the beginning of an answer.

Over in New York where dreams are made of, Binghamton University researchers have developed a battery that is not only powered by live bacteria, but it’s also as thin as “a single sheet of paper.” This tech is naturally still very early and it might be a while before we see any commercial applications, but it sure sounds awfully compelling.

The explanation for how it works starts to sound like Greek to me. You get a piece of chromatography paper, a ribbon of silver nitrate, and a layer of wax. Add in a conductive polymer to the paper and a reservoir with bacteria-rich liquid. The power is generated when the bacteria “breathe” (cellular respiration).

They’re not being terribly ambitious with the power output for now — up to 44.85 microwatts in a configuration of six batteries in six parallel series — so the current aim is to power disposable electronics for weeks at a time. Weeks! The bacteria battery tech is perfect for gadgets and gizmos that could be going into remote or dangerous areas.

Yay, science!

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