Genetically modified soil bacteria works as electrical wires

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Plazma Inferno!, Aug 18, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research have genetically engineered a new strain of bacteria, found naturally in dirt, to create electrical wires that not only conduct electricity, but also rival the thinnest wires known to humanity. The nanowires could have a great impact on the future force, contributing to everything from smaller electronic devices to alternative fuels.
    The centerpiece of this research is Geobacter, a bacteria that produces microbial nanowires -- hair-like protein filaments protruding from the organism -- enabling it to make electrical connections with the iron oxides that support its growth in the ground. Although Geobacter naturally carries enough electricity for its own survival, the current is too weak for human use, but is enough to be measured with electrodes.
    Team of researchers tweaked the bacteria's genetic makeup to replace two amino acids naturally present in the wires with tryptophan, which is very good at transporting electrons in the nanoscale.
    The results surpassed the team's expectations as the synthetic, tryptophan-infused nanowires were 2,000 times more conductive than their natural counterparts. And they were more durable and much smaller, with a diameter of 1.5 nanometers (over 60,000 times thinner than a human hair) -- which means that thousands of nanowires could possibly be stored in the tiniest spaces.

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