Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen has harnessed the natural phenomena of bioluminescent waves in her lamp prototype, called Ambio.
Bioluminescent waves occur when oxygen mixes with seawater, causing aquatic bacteria to glow brightly in a blue-green hue. There are multiple species of bioluminescent microorganisms to choose from, but Van Dongen chose to use bacteria scraped off the skin of an octopus for Ambio. Due to its degree of luminescence, and the longer reaction the bacteria has to movement, octopus bacteria provides a more stable glow of light (versus a pulse) when disturbed.
So how does it work?
Van Dongen executed the prototype of a "living lamp for the home" by working with two students from TU Delft's life science department. A tube filled with artificial seawater and the octopus bacteria is suspended between two brass weights, and a wool cap at the top ensures a regular stream of oxygen. Nudging the lamp disturbs the bacteria and produces a cool blue glow, and the brass weights cause a prolonged movement which allows the light to glow for a prolonged amount of time. In Dezeen's video below you can see Ambio in action:
Seeing as Ambio is a prototype, there are some drawbacks that Van Dongen needs to resolve. The microorganisms only have a two-day lifespan before their nutrients are depleted, or multiply too much for the tube to endure. The team is working toward a solution to extend their lifespan so Ambio could become a viable and innovative product in the lighting industry.
"Our aim is to create an installation where new medium with nutrients – liquid food – is constantly added to the fluid with bacteria while the abundant amount of fluid is constantly drained, without using electricity," said Van Dongen. "In this way we can theoretically keep the population alive for an eternity."
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