The Latro lamp is a new and interesting invention showcasing another side of using algae as an alternative energy source. The Latro lamp works by tapping into the energy produced during photosynthesis to deliver light. The premise is pretty simple — as algae converts carbon dioxide provided by your breath into energy, small electrodes catch the small amounts of electricity produced and store them in a battery for later use.
The Latro (Latin word for “thief”) was developed by Netherland-based innovator Mike Thompson inspired from a scientific breakthrough by researchers from Yansei University in Korea and Stanford University in the U.S. The researchers discovered by inserting 30-nanometer wide gold electrodes into the photosynthesizing organs (chloroplasts) of algal cells, small amounts of electrical current can be harnessed during photosynthesis.
This “living light” lamp is built from glass and features a hook to hang it in a bright and sunny spot to do its work. Just fill the Latro with water and phytoplankton and give it a boost of CO2 with a breath or two and nature takes over.
The Latro may not provide much in the way of usable light but provides a great and unique conversation point for the home. As this technology is refined, more suitable applications may be developed in the future. Although the Latro won’t be powering any nano reefs any time soon, this is more of a case where the aquarium and phyto culturing experience of the reefing community could contribute to a project with wider cultural impacts.