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Exploring self-powering biomaterials using embedded proteins

$3,651
Pledged
35%
Funded
$10,557
Goal
30
Days Left
  • $3,651
    pledged
  • 35%
    funded
  • 30
    days left

About This Project

Protein-embedded biomaterials offer the promise of regenerative forms of power for devices. Current power sources — even renewable technologies — fail to disassemble or recycle or biodegrade. We build on research from UMASS university which proposed devices made from protein nanowires harvested from Geobacter sulfurreducens. These nanowires produce a continuous 0.5 volts per 0.5cm². We propose a material scaffold that harnesses this to produce even larger amounts of electricity

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What is the context of this research?

It was the Science article titled "The Mud is Electric" that jumpstarted our journey. We are building on incredible research from UMASS university who first uncovered the capacity of wonder bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens to create the proteins and generate power. We want to harness and scale this capacity.

By understanding the underlying mechanisms of Geobacter's behavior, and combining various biology-based design we are crafting a technology that uses widely available materials to birth a new generation of electronics.

The special thing about this type of electricity is that is uses the humidity in the air, something that is constantly present around us. It's unconstrained by other environmental factors like wind or sunshine that can hugely vary from day to day.

What is the significance of this project?

As the world increasingly adopts clean technologies and IoT solutions, the demand for critical minerals is skyrocketing. This leads to increased mining activities and environmental degradation. On top of this, the proliferation of electronic devices contributes significantly to the mounting piles of e-waste.

Our approach is to re-imagine this paradigm. What if we could cultivate our electronics? At Electric Skin, we are growing bacteria that naturally produce electrical proteins. This breakthrough serves as a platform technology applicable to both energy production and electronics.

Our technology harnesses these proteins and integrates them into algae-based biomaterials making them growable, renewable and even partly compostable!

What are the goals of the project?

Today, we are developing sensors that will be growable and compostable. In the future, we imagine crafting entire phones, or coating entire buildings with Electric Skin. In 2 years we see communities using Electric Skin technologies to power and tinker with their own bio-electronic applications that are non-toxic and renewable. In 20 years we see people using phones made of compostable materials, right down to the electronics inside, and burying them ritually in the soil at the end of use.

Budget

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The majority of the materials listed are for protein analysis. We have been producing protein nanowires, our key ingredient, but we do not know exactly how much or at what purity level. These materials will help us answer essential questions so we can move forward.

Endorsed by

I've known the Electric Skin team since they formed their group as part of the 2021 Biodesign Sprint (developed and implemented by the Biodesign Challenge in partnership with Google). The team is a wonderful group of individuals from different corners of the world who are using their varied expertise to reimagine dated systems for a more sustainable world. I'm looking forward to seeing the impact of this particular project of theirs and strongly endorse it. I hope you will consider supporting this work as well!
What a great project! I'm very excited to see the outcomes of these experiments. The early proof-of-principle results were very cool to see and this team will be able to answer some great questions about these nanowire. This is a fantastic team that knows what they are doing. Exceptionally smart, creative, motivated- they work well together to identify interesting solutions. Sequoia is one of the most innovative, hard-working, and trustworthy scientists I've ever worked with.

Project Timeline

We will first grow a new batch of proteins. Next, we will precisely measure the quantity of these proteins produced. The most important step is: growing a high concentration of our proteins and purifying them. This is the most experimental task in our process that requires troubleshooting.. We have had varying success so far with growing on liquid mediums. We need funding to use more sophisticated tools for measuring and visualizing our nanometer thick proteins and protein films.

Jul 01, 2024

Project Launched

Aug 30, 2024

Acquire materials and equipment

Sep 30, 2024

Grow new batch of proteins

Oct 15, 2024

Test quality and quantity of new proteins (i.e. TEM)

Oct 31, 2024

Connect cells to a capacitor for energy storage

Meet the Team

Paige Perillat-Piratoine
Paige Perillat-Piratoine
Business Development / Storytelling

Affiliates

Nature Tech Collective
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Sequoia Fischer
Sequoia Fischer
Chief Science Officer

Affiliates

Electric Skin LLC
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Catherine Euale
Catherine Euale
Biological Artist and Material Researcher

Affiliates

S-BIOTICA Studio
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Nada Elkharashi
Nada Elkharashi
Interdisciplinary Research design

Affiliates

NRK interdisciplinary Co.
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Team Bio

We are Nada, Catherine, Sequoia and Paige.

We are developing a new biomaterial device that can generate electricity, using the protein nanowires from Geobacter Sulfurreducens.

Our vision is of a regenerative energy future, where our electronics are growable and compostable. Where our devices have a new materiality, complex, textured, and perhaps even alive.

That’s the idea behind Electric Skin: A Self-Powering Material,Beautiful, Growable, Compostable.

Paige Perillat-Piratoine

With a background in Geography, Business Management, and Futures, my experience is profoundly collaborative and interdisciplinary. I initially worked in urban agriculture in an effort to reconcile cities and their food sources, but soon realised it is the materiality of our cities that is problematic. That our future materials can be grown, living, circular. As a result, I am specialized in biomaterial innovation, crafting my own biodesign experiments to gain knowledge and coordinating innovators on a professional basis to bring solutions to life.

Sequoia Fischer

Sequoia Fischer is from Arizona’s desert Sky Islands. She grew up hiking, dancing, and dreaming of new worlds for herself and many animal friends. She always begged her mom for more plants and pets, finding a kinship with a diversity of life beyond humans. On her adventures through the desert, she would build forts from dried out agave and mesquite branches. She loved to be busy, learning, and creating.

As an adult she held true to the same elements of her early life: dreaming, creating, and building for her animal, human, and plant friends. She graduated from the University of Arizona with two bachelor degrees, one in Ecology/Evolutionary Biology and the other in 3D Studio Art. Later in life she moved to Spain to study the architect Antoni Gaudí and earn her Masters in Biodigital Architecture.

Early in her career in California’s Bay Area, she worked as a protein engineer/ synthetic biologist in hopes that this path would help her build beautiful things with nature. She now finds herself working with three other talented woman from across the globe in their biotech startup, Electric Skin. Their mission is to grow self charging biodegradable electronics that could one day be used to power our homes.

In the coming years she hopes to continue to build with nature, providing healthy habitats for her human family and the diversity of life on Earth.

Catherine Euale

Catherine Euale, a Venezuelan-Canadian artist and citizen scientist, combines various disciplines such as bio art, conceptual art, open-source citizen science, microbiology, and digital fabrication. Her work explores the intricate connections between humans and other species, merging realms like biological arts, mycology, interspecies communication, bioethics, and ART-ivism.


Catherine's focus in on working with microorganisms, organic materials, wearable or sculptural pieces that are grown or partly alive. Her aim is to create a sense of biophilia - the innate desire and love for all living things. She aims heal the concept of the inanimate the objectified and the disposable by bringing context into our objects. Her work portrays their aliveness, through bio-materiality. She works in collaboration with algae, fungi, slime molds, bacteria and plants. She uses digital fabrication, electronics and 3D worldbuilding where applicable to create her pieces and their presentation in a space, crafting a holistic sensory experience.

Euale has showcased at exhibitions such as Dear 2050: Oceans on the Rise in Switzerland, Milan Design week on three ocasions, Dubai Cop28, MIT BioSummit. Her recognition and climate art award from Climanosco highlight her talent in effectively communicating scientific concepts and engaging audiences in critical discussions on biodiversity conservation.

Collaborating often with diverse and multidisciplinary teams, she ensures that the outcomes of her projects encompass thorough research, feasibility, and artistic value, materiality and emotional response. Her work is conscious of people, place, and biodiversity, and strives to give "voices" to the more than human world.


Nada Elkharashi

Nada Elkharashi is an Interdisciplinary

Designer and a Design Researcher focused
on creating thought-provoking experiences
and realities. Her work lies at the intersection
of materiality, cultural philosophy, and
human ecology. In particular, she explores
natural materials and handmade techniques
to imbue everyday objects with cultural
insight that, in turn, stimulate and informs
behavioral culture advancements.
Her work results in product designs,
interactive installations, artworks,
storytelling sensory exhibitions, furniture
and visual content.
Nada Elkharashi received a Fellowship in
Master of Fine Arts in I Interdisciplinary
Design Studies—MFA, and a
HBKU sponsorship in Bachelor of Fine Arts in
Interior Architecture/ Interior Design— BFA
from Virginia Commonwealth University in
Qatar.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

Last year we self-published a "toolkit" to explain the context and advances in our research, so others could be inspired and perhaps join the adventure: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/67905310/electric-skin-toolkit

It shows some academic research and patents related to the technology we are developing, as well as the wider social and cultural experimentation with this direction of energy production, showcasing artists and businesses that harness bacteria to generate power.

The toolkit addresses the technical, political and social feasibility of the project, and shows current applications of this type of power, hence also pointing to economic viability.


Project Backers

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  • 35%Funded
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