The emerging science of electrosynbionics

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Abstract

Dramatic changes in electricity generation, use and storage are needed to keep pace with increasing demand while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There is great potential for application of bioengineering in this area. We have the tools to re-engineer biological molecules and systems, and a significant amount of research and development is being carried out on technologies such as biophotovoltaics, biocapacitors, biofuel cells and biobatteries. However, there does not seem to be a satisfactory overarching term to describe this area, and I propose a new word—'electrosynbionics'. This is to be defined as: the creation of engineered devices that use components derived from or inspired by biology to perform a useful electrical function. Here, the phrase 'electrical function' is taken to mean the generation, use and storage of electricity, where the primary charge carriers may be either electrons or ions. 'Electrosynbionics' is distinct from 'bioelectronics', which normally relates to applications in sensing, computing or electroceuticals. Electrosynbionic devices have the potential to solve challenges in electricity generation, use and storage by exploiting or mimicking some of the desirable attributes of biological systems, including high efficiency, benign operating conditions and intricate molecular structures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020

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