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I remember wondering years ago if it were possible to design a lamp that you would feed and water like a houseplant. Well, apparently, it is, and designer Mike Thompson has done it (conceptually, anyway). He calls it Latro. There’s more info over at Inhabitat:

The lamp is made possible thanks to a recent discovery made by researchers at the universities of Yansei and Stanford. The researchers found that a tiny electrical current can be extracted from algae during photosynthesis. The Latro Lamp features a battery that stores energy generated by the algae throughout the day and a light sensor that controls the lamp’s intensity, preventing the algae from becoming malnourished. Thompson believes this discovery could lead to an algae revolution: “As advances in nanotechnology lead to increasingly energy efficient products, plant life such as algae will become attractive sources for tapping energy,” he says.

I’m guessing the electrical potential used to charge the battery during the day would be generated between the top and bottom of the algal layer and is ultimately due to a gravity-induced concentration gradient of some kind of metabolite in the broth.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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Comments

  1. Accomplished says:

    If you check out page 6 of the PDF on his site which describes the lamp, you’ll see that his explanation of how the power is generated is pretty unfeasible.

  2. Accomplished says:

    If you check out page 6 of the PDF on his site which describes the lamp, you’ll see that his explanation of how the power is generated is pretty unfeasible.

  3. ad astra says:

    If you read the website, you’ll see that this is just speculative, for a future where the energy harvesting technique mentioned (which involves implanting 60 nm gold wires into specific organs in the algal cell) is not absurdly impractical for widespread use. Thompson hasn’t “done” it, he’s just come up with an interesting but impractical idea and made a mock-up. It’s a neat concept, and I too find the idea of a “living” lamp intriguing, but I really wish the editors would read the items they post in a little more detail.

    1. saiboogu.com says:

      First two sentences – the author wonders if it is possible to *design* such a lamp, then states that it is, and this dude “has done it” – designed such a lamp, in other words. So, no inaccuracy in the blog post.

      I do agree, though, that this type of article is annoying. This is a makers blog.. I read this to see real things made by real people. Lots of other blogs cover crazy speculative stuff, and while such flights of fancy have a certain goal in encouraging innovation, they have nothing at all to do with the mad-talented type of folks this blog usually focuses on – makers, who create real objects, not bits of mental masturbation.

  4. trevyn says:

    If you’re interested in lamps using algae, you might want to check out this instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Grow-Your-Own-Bioluminescent-Algae/ which was in the latest Instructables Newsletter.

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