Down to the Wire: ONR Researchers and New Bacteria

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September 6, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: September 6 on

Scientists sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have genetically modified a common soil bacteria to create electrical wires that not only conduct electricity, but are thousands of times thinner than a human hair. As electronic devices increasingly touch all facets of people’s lives, there is growing appetite for technology that is smaller, faster and more mobile and powerful than ever before. Thanks to advances in nanotechnology (manipulating matter on an atomic or molecular scale), industry can manufacture materials only billionths of a meter in thickness. The ONR-sponsored researchers–led by microbiologist Dr. Derek Lovley at the University of Massachusetts Amherst–say their engineered wires can be produced using renewable “green” energy resources like solar energy, carbon dioxide or plant waste; are made of non-toxic, natural proteins; and avoid harsh chemical processes typically used to create nanoelectronic materials.

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