via Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Study of bacterium links biology, materials science, and electrical engineering
When the Shewanella oneidensis bacterium “breathes” in certain metal and sulfur compounds anaerobically, the way an aerobic organism would process oxygen, it produces materials that could be used to enhance electronics, electrochemical energy storage, and drug-delivery devices.
The ability of this bacterium to produce molybdenum disulfide — a material that is able to transfer electrons easily, like graphene — is the focus of research published in Biointerphases by a team of engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“This has some serious potential if we can understand this process and control aspects of how the bacteria are making these and other materials,” said Shayla Sawyer, an associate professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer.
The research was led by James Rees, who is currently a postdoctoral research associate under the Sawyer group in close partnership and with the support of the Jefferson Project at Lake George — a collaboration between Rensselaer, IBM Research, and The FUND for Lake George that is pioneering a new model for environmental monitoring and prediction. This research is an important step toward developing a new generation of nutrient sensors that can be deployed on lakes and other water bodies.
“We find bacteria that are adapted to specific geochemical or biochemical environments can create, in some cases, very interesting and novel materials,” Rees said. “We are trying to bring that into the electrical engineering world.”
Rees conducted this pioneering work as a graduate student, co-advised by Sawyer and Yuri Gorby, the third author on this paper. Compared with other anaerobic bacteria, one thing that makes Shewanella oneidensis particularly unusual and interesting is that it produces nanowires capable of transferring electrons.
“That lends itself to connecting to electronic devices that have already been made,” Sawyer said. “So, it’s the interface between the living world and the manmade world that is fascinating.”
Sawyer and Rees also found that, because their electronic signatures can be mapped and monitored, bacterial biofilms could also act as an effective nutrient sensor that could provide Jefferson Project researchers with key information about the health of an aquatic ecosystem like Lake George.
“This groundbreaking work using bacterial biofilms represents the potential for an exciting new generation of ‘living sensors,’ which would completely transform our ability to detect excess nutrients in water bodies in real-time. This is critical to understanding and mitigating harmful algal blooms and other important water quality issues around the world,” said Rick Relyea, director of the Jefferson Project.
Sawyer and Rees plan to continue exploring how to optimally develop this bacterium to harness its wide-ranging potential applications.
“We sometimes get the question with the research: Why bacteria? Or, why bring microbiology into materials science?” Rees said. “Biology has had such a long run of inventing materials through trial and error. The composites and novel structures invented by human scientists are almost a drop in the bucket compared to what biology has been able to do.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Living Colour’s Vernon Reid Joins ASCAP Lab as Artist in Residenceon October 6, 2020 at 6:29 am
The ASCAP Lab announced that Living Colour founder and guitarist Vernon Reid has joined as artist in residence, and also announced the finalists from its NYC Media Lab Seed Project as well as ...
- Coway Elevates Small Living Spaces with its Newest Minimalist Air Purifier, the Airmega 150on October 2, 2020 at 7:00 am
At $189.99, the Airmega 150 is also Coway’s most budget-friendly model, without compromising high-quality cleaning functions for its minimalist aesthetic or price. The product is designed to minimize ...
- 2020 ALS and MS Walk for Living to be Held Sunday October 18on September 29, 2020 at 1:06 pm
One of your neighbors posted in Neighbor News. Click through to read what they have to say. (The views expressed in this post are the author’s own.) ...
- Xiaomi Smarter Living 2021 | Mi Band 5 to launch in India today at 12 pm alongside Mi Watch Revolve, Mi Smart Speakeron September 29, 2020 at 2:14 am
The Mi Watch Revolve and Mi Band 5 launch at the Smarter Living 2021 event is scheduled to begin at 12 pm today in India.
- Everything Xiaomi announced at its Smarter Living eventon September 29, 2020 at 1:12 am
Xiaomi has announced six new products for India at its Smarter Living event. Products include the new Mi Watch Revolve smartwatch and Mi Smart Speaker. Xiaomi has kicked off its third annual Smarter ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Bizarre Things: Computers & Mathon September 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Sep. 25, 2020 — Researchers create a quantum algorithm that removes spin contaminants while making chemical calculations on quantum computers. This allows for predictions of electronic and ...
- Detecting explosives with fungal networkson September 17, 2020 at 7:58 am
putida alongside many other bacteria and yeast as well. Molybdenum disulfide-producing bacteria could be the future of bioelectronics The metal-breathing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis produces ...