Scientists create technology to exploit electrical nanowires hidden in soil and oceans

The author of a new study explains how adding light could dramatically increase the electrical conductivity of bacteria-grown nanowires.
Paul Ratner
Geobacter expressing electrically conductive nanowires.
Geobacter expressing electrically conductive nanowires.

UMass Amherst 

In a new study, researchers explore ways to utilize nature’s "electric grid", comprised of nanowires grown by bacteria found in oxygen-less soil and deep ocean beds. These 'wires' conduct electricity when the bacteria “breathes” by transferring electrons in a process that can be significantly influenced by adding light, as discovered the scientists. A variety of potential applications of this technology include cleaning up toxic waste, tackling global methane emissions, creating new renewable fuels and electronic sensors, and even potential uses in space.

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