Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



TECH SPACE
'Green' electronic materials produced with synthetic biology
by Staff Writers
Amherst MA (SPX) Jul 19, 2016


illustration only

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report in the current issue of Small that they have genetically designed a new strain of bacteria that spins out extremely thin and highly conductive wires made up of solely of non-toxic, natural amino acids.

Researchers led by microbiologist Derek Lovely say the wires, which rival the thinnest wires known to man, are produced from renewable, inexpensive feedstocks and avoid the harsh chemical processes typically used to produce nanoelectronic materials.

Lovley says, "New sources of electronic materials are needed to meet the increasing demand for making smaller, more powerful electronic devices in a sustainable way."

The ability to mass-produce such thin conductive wires with this sustainable technology has many potential applications in electronic devices, functioning not only as wires, but also transistors and capacitors. Proposed applications include biocompatible sensors, computing devices, and as components of solar panels.

This advance began a decade ago, when Lovley and colleagues discovered that Geobacter, a common soil microorganism, could produce "microbial nanowires," electrically conductive protein filaments that help the microbe grow on the iron minerals abundant in soil.

These microbial nanowires were conductive enough to meet the bacterium's needs, but their conductivity was well below the conductivities of organic wires that chemists could synthesize.

"As we learned more about how the microbial nanowires worked we realized that it might be possible to improve on Nature's design," says Lovley. "We knew that one class of amino acids was important for the conductivity, so we rearranged these amino acids to produce a synthetic nanowire that we thought might be more conductive."

The trick they discovered to accomplish this was to introduce tryptophan, an amino acid not present in the natural nanowires. Tryptophan is a common aromatic amino acid notorious for causing drowsiness after eating Thanksgiving turkey. However, it is also highly effective at the nanoscale in transporting electrons.

"We designed a synthetic nanowire in which a tryptophan was inserted where nature had used a phenylalanine and put in another tryptophan for one of the tyrosines. We hoped to get lucky and that Geobacter might still form nanowires from this synthetic peptide and maybe double the nanowire conductivity," says Lovley.

The results greatly exceeded the scientists' expectations. They genetically engineered a strain of Geobacter and manufactured large quantities of the synthetic nanowires 2000 times more conductive than the natural biological product. An added bonus is that the synthetic nanowires, which Lovley refers to as "biowire," had a diameter only half that of the natural product.

"We were blown away by this result," says Lovley. The conductivity of biowire exceeds that of many types of chemically produced organic nanowires with similar diameters. The extremely thin diameter of 1.5 nanometers (over 60,000 times thinner than a human hair) means that thousands of the wires can easily be packed into a very small space.

The added benefit is that making biowire does not require any of the dangerous chemicals that are needed for synthesis of other nanowires. Also, biowire contains no toxic components. "Geobacter can be grown on cheap renewable organic feedstocks so it is a very 'green' process," he notes. And, although the biowire is made out of protein, it is extremely durable. In fact, Lovley's lab had to work for months to establish a method to break it down.

"It's quite an unusual protein," Lovley says. "This may be just the beginning" he adds.

Researchers in his lab recently produced more than 20 other Geobacter strains, each producing a distinct biowire variant with new amino acid combinations. He notes, "I am hoping that our initial success will attract more funding to accelerate the discovery process. We are hoping that we can modify biowire in other ways to expand its potential applications."


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
TECH SPACE
New plastic material begins to oscillate spontaneously in sunlight
Eindhoven, Netherlands (SPX) Jul 08, 2016
Materials that move all by themselves under the influence of light - this phenomenon has been known for a number of years. However, since the source tends to be ultraviolet light, the required intensity can damage the material. The challenge was to find a material that behaves in this way in visible light, preferably unprocessed sunlight. The researchers from Eindhoven and Berlin hav ... read more


TECH SPACE
Russia to spend $60M in 2016-2018 to fund space voyages to Moon, Mars

Russian Moon Base to Hold Up to 12 People

US may approve private venture moon mission: report

Fifty Years of Moon Dust

TECH SPACE
Mars Canyons Study Adds Clues about Possible Water

Curiosity Mars Rover Enters Precautionary Safe Mode

Frosty Cold Nights Year-Round on Mars May Stir Dust

Mars Canyons Study Adds Clues about Possible Water

TECH SPACE
Mathematical framework prioritizes key patterns to accelerate scientific discovery

Sensor Technology Could Revolutionize What You Sleep On

Return to light for underground astronauts

A decade of plant biology in space

TECH SPACE
Dutch Radio Antenna to Depart for Moon on Chinese Mission

Chinese Space Garbageman is not a Weapon

China to launch its largest carrier rocket later this year

China committed to peaceful use of outer space

TECH SPACE
New Crew Members, Including NASA Biologist, Launch to Space Station

Russian New Soyuz-MS Spacecraft Docks With ISS for First Time

NASA Highlights Space Station Research Benefits, Opportunities at San Diego Conference

Three astronauts blast off for ISS in upgraded Soyuz craft

TECH SPACE
SpaceX to launch key 'parking spot' to space station

Russia to Continue Rocket Engine Supplies to US Under Existing Contracts

India launches 20 satellites in single mission

LSU Chemistry Experiment Aboard Historic Suborbital Space Flight

TECH SPACE
Lush Venus? Searing Earth? It could have happened

Graduate researchers lead exoplanet discoveries

Teenagers at Keele University Discover Possible New Exoplanet

A surprising planet with three suns

TECH SPACE
Setting the gold standard

Winning Students Selected for Future Engineers Star Trek Replicator Challenge

FAU researchers show how gels develop their solid properties

Learning from the mussel, scientists create a biologically active titanium surface




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement