A team led by Concordia University engineering professor Muthukumaran Packirisamy created a power cell that harnesses electrical energy from the photosynthesis and respiration of blue-green algae.

Also known as cyanobacteria, blue-green algae are the most prosperous microorganisms on Earth, evolutionarily speaking, researchers said.

They occupy a broad range of habitats across all latitudes. And they have been here forever: the planet's early fauna and flora owe their makeup to cyanobacteria, which produced the oxygen that ultimately allowed higher life forms to flourish.

Currently, the photosynthetic power cell exists on a small scale, and consists of an anode, cathode and proton exchange membrane. The cyanobacteria or blue green algae are placed in the anode chamber.

As they undergo photosynthesis, the cyanobacteria release electrons to the electrode surface. An external load is connected to the device to extract the electrons and harness power.

Researchers hope that the micro photosynthetic power cells will soon be used in various applications, such as powering cell phones and computers.

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