(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have created amazing material, an important part of which are living bacteria that generate electric current. Researchers believe that microbial batteries will find a wide variety of uses.
The achievement is described in a scientific article published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
It has long been known that some bacteria in the process of metabolism produce free electrons and give them to the environment. Such a microorganism is a real source of current.
Of course, an electrical appliance can hardly be powered from a single bacterium. A whole colony of microbes is needed that is in constant contact with the electrodes. This is quite difficult to achieve.
Scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany solved this problem by developing an unusual composite material.
“We created a porous hydrogel, which consists of carbon nanotubes and silica nanoparticles. They are woven together by DNA strands,” explains Christof Niemeyer, head of the research team.
In the pores of this material, the authors added a liquid nutrient medium and settled there bacteria of the species Shewanella oneidensis.
Microbes successfully colonized the structure and took on the role of “batteries”. The electrons generated by them poured into a common electrical circuit. The experiment lasted several days, and all this time the power source worked stably.
To turn off the generation of electricity, scientists added to the environment an enzyme that cuts DNA strands. The structure of the material was disrupted, and it ceased to generate current.
“As far as we know, such a complex and functional biohybrid material is described for the first time,” Niemeyer emphasizes.
We add that many scientific groups are working on the creation of microbial fuel cells, sensors and bioreactors. Researchers hope that their development will find application both in these areas and beyond.
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