Luminous octopus bacteria in Dutch lamp design

Photo: "Ambio" by Hans Boddeke.Photo: "Ambio" by Hans Boddeke.

Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen was so influence by bioluminescence that she created a lamp whose light is powered solely by octopus bacteria. The Design Academy Eindhoven graduate’s lamp “Ambio” harnesses the natural energy of micro-organisms that glows brightly every time an ocean wave provides them with oxygen. "For a while now I have been doing research into new forms of light and energy," the designer told website Dezeen. "My goal is to create a living lamp for the home."

The tube-like lamp balances two weights and a glass rod filled with artificial seawater. When gently pushed, the weights moves the tube and the water inside it, allowing the bacteria to react and emit a powerful glow. One push of the lamp will keep the waves moving for twenty minutes, while a small hole in the tube allows for a steady stream of oxygen to be pushed through without letting in pathogens. “The bacteria inside the tube only has enough food for about two days until they need to be replaced,” van Dongen told the Independent. “In theory the population could last much longer but just not inside the tube,” she said. The bacteria were extracted with the help of two TU Delft students from the skin of octopuses. Van Dongen is currently working on a solution that will extend their lifespan. "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." The lamp is not yet for sale and is still in the development stage.