An Amsterdam based designer has collaborated with two TU Delft researchers to develop a bioluminescent light using octopus bacteria.

Designer Teresa van Dongen’s graduation thesis for the Design Academy Eindhoven is the bioluminescent light installation ‘Ambio’; a light that generates its glow using the bacteria (photobacterium species) of the common octopus. The design was made possible through collaboration with Bart Joosse and Richard Groen, two Life Science and Technology students at TU Delft.

First joining forces in February of this year, Joosse and Groen were able to provide van Dongen with what she had been unable to accomplish herself; the ability to successfully grow the photobacterium in a lab environment. Given the strict time frame of developing the Ambio for her graduation thesis, van Dongen says there are elements of the lamp that can be strengthened including the length of time the bacteria are illuminated, as her current design uses a pendulum motion that lasts only 20 minutes before needing more human interaction. Joosse and Groen continue to work with van Dongen by researching different ways of creating the bioluminescence for a more sustained period of time. “We are now trying to grow the bacteria for a longer time by supplying them with food continuously.” says Joosse. “At the moment we can already grow them for a week without loss of light, but we expect this can be extended to multiple weeks and probably even months.”

For Joosse and Groen the collaboration has been both challenging and rewarding. Joosse was struck by the importance given to the design element of the project over the practical element. “Practically, a lamp that uses bacteria for its light production is in almost every way inferior to a normal lamp.” says Joosse. But from a designer’s point of view, all those practical flaws don’t matter at all. For us engineers that is sometimes hard to grasp.” For Groen, working with van Dongen is a step towards a larger need for interdisciplinary collaboration, saying “I really recommend people from very different disciplines to work together. It could really take your work to another level.”

Living in symbiosis with sea organisms such as squid, octopi and certain species of fish, the photobacterium species is fascinating and beautiful, yet widely unknown. “Next time you’re eating squid or octopus” says van Dongen, “turn off the lights and it’s quite possible that you’ll be able to see the glow of the bacteria.” Whether you find this is an exciting or off-putting prospect, you have to admit, it’s intriguing; as all good science is.

Redacteur Redactie

Heb je een vraag of opmerking over dit artikel?

Comments are closed.