Wednesday, July 12

Bacteria made to sprout conducting nanowires

I have a new article out in the new issue of New Scientist. Here's the online version:
Bacteria made to sprout conducting nanowires

The discovery that a wide variety of bacteria can be persuaded to produce wire-like appendages that conduct electricity could prove vital to the development of more efficient biological fuel cells.

Bacteria that use sugars and sewage as fuel are being investigated as a pollution-free source of electricity. They feed by plucking electrons from atoms in their fuel and dumping them onto the oxygen or metal atoms in the mixture. The transfer of the electrons creates a current, and connecting the bacteria to an electrode in a microbial fuel cell will generate electricity, although not necessarily very efficiently....

A clearer understanding of the way bacterial nanowires form should allow engineers to make more efficient and powerful biological fuel cells, Gorby says. For example, they could ensure that the chemical conditions surrounding bacteria encourage it to grow as many nanowires as possible, increasing conductivity....
Link to the entire thing.


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