Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Harnessing Microbes, One by One, to Build a Better Nanoworld

Abstract:
Bacterial cells used to make tiny bio-electronic circuits

Harnessing Microbes, One by One, to Build a Better Nanoworld

San Diego, CA | March 17, 2005

Taking a new approach to the painstaking assembly of nanometer-sized machines, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has successfully used single bacterial cells to make tiny bio-electronic circuits.

The work is important because it has the potential to make building the atomic-scale machines of the nanotechnologist far easier. It also may be the basis for a new class of biological sensors capable of near-instantaneous detection of dangerous biological agents such as anthrax.

The approach, reported here today (March 17, 2005) at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggests that microbes can serve as forms for complicated nanoscale structures, perhaps obviating, in part, the need for the tedious and time-consuming construction of devices at the smallest scale.

The work is also scheduled to appear in the April issue of the journal Nano Letters.

"One of the great challenges of nanotechnology remains the assembly of nanoscale objects into more complex systems," says Robert Hamers, a UW-Madison professor of chemistry and the senior author of the new reports. "We think that bacteria and other small biological systems can be used as templates for fabricating even more complex systems."

Toward that end, Hamers and his UW-Madison colleagues Joseph Beck, Lu Shang and Matthew Marcus, have developed a system in which living microbes, notably bacteria, are guided, one at a time, down a channel to a pair of electrodes barely a germ's length apart. Slipping between the electrodes, the microbes, in effect, become electrical "junctions," giving researchers the ability to capture, interrogate and release bacterial cells one by one. Built into a sensor, such a capability would enable real-time detection of dangerous biological agents, including anthrax and other microbial pathogens.

"The results here are significant because while there has been much attention paid to the ability to manipulate nanoscale objects such as nanotubes and nanowires across electrical contacts, for many applications the use of bacterial cells affords a number of potential advantages," Hamers says.

For example, capitalizing on the complex topography of the bacterial cell surface and microbial interactions with antibodies, scientists could potentially construct much more complex nanoscale structures through the natural ability of cells to dock with different kinds of molecules. Such a potential, Hamers argues, would be superior to the painstaking manipulation of individual nanosized components, such as the microscopic wires and tubes that comprise the raw materials of nanotechnology.

"We spend a lot of time making tiny little nanowires and things of that sort, and then we try to direct them in place, but it is very hard," says Hamers. "However, bacteria and other biological systems can be thought of as nature's nanowires that can be easily grown and manipulated."

In the series of experiments underpinning the new Wisconsin work, the group showed that it is possible to capture cells along an electrode and then direct them down a narrow channel that acts as a conveyor. Small gaps in the electrical contacts along the conveyor serve as traps that can hold single bacterial cells while their electrical properties are measured. Once the microbial interrogation is completed, the live cell can be released.

"You can measure and release them at your leisure," explains Beck, the lead author of the Nano Letters paper and a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow.

He says the chemicals naturally expressed on the surface of the bacterium could be wired in a way that would be the basis for a real-time biological sensor, a device that could be seeded in airports, stadiums, railway stations, skyscrapers, mailrooms and other public areas to sniff for dangerous biological agents that might be used in a bioterror event.

The device could be constructed, according to Beck, utilizing the natural features bacteria and other microbes use to sense their environments. The wired bacterial cells, coupled with modern microelectronics, would have the ability not only to detect dangerous agents (anthrax spores, for example) but they then could sound the alarm and call for help.

"You could even engineer bacteria to have different surface molecules that you could capitalize on," says Beck.

For instance, it may be possible, the Wisconsin scientists say, to attach microscopic gold particles to the shell of the bacterium, making it more like a nanoscale gold wire.

Hamers believes the new work could be the basis for bringing nanotechnology and biology together in unprecedented ways.

Moreover, the ability to routinely and easily capture and analyze individual microbes will have implications for conventional biotechnology as well. For example, chemical modifications to the electrode traps might make it easier for scientists to retrieve specified cells from a complex mixture.

The work by Hamers' group was funded by the National Science Foundation. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization that manages UW-Madison intellectual property, has applied for patents for the technology.


###


Writer: Terry Devitt, (608) 262-8282, trdevitt@wisc.edu

NOTE TO EDITORS: MPEG movies are available here

Contact:
Robert J. Hamers
(608) 262-6371
hamers@chem.wisc.edu

Joseph D. Beck
(608) 262-9081
jdbeck@wisc.edu

Copyright © University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Molecular Machines

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

Breakthrough laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms in an ultra-cold cluster: University of Leicester research team unlocks insights into creation of new nano-materials July 25th, 2014

NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014

University of Illinois researchers demonstrate novel, tunable nanoantennas July 14th, 2014

Chip Technology

Electrical engineers take major step toward photonic circuits: Team invents non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to 'compress' and contain light August 19th, 2014

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices August 18th, 2014

AI Technology (AIT) Introduces Novel High Temperature Large Area Underfill with Proven Stress Absorption August 15th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Stabilize Protein on Highly Stable Electrode Surface August 14th, 2014

Sensors

Newly-Developed Nanobiosensor Quickly Diagnoses Cancer August 20th, 2014

Graphene rubber bands could stretch limits of current healthcare, new research finds August 19th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Stabilize Protein on Highly Stable Electrode Surface August 14th, 2014

Non-Enzyme Nanosensors Quickly Measure Blood Sugar August 12th, 2014

Announcements

Tissue regeneration using anti-inflammatory nanomolecules August 22nd, 2014

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy August 22nd, 2014

Malvern’s Dr Alan Rawle talks TLAs in plenary lecture at Particulate Systems Analysis conference August 21st, 2014

Water window imaging opportunity: A new theoretical study elucidates mechanisms that could help in producing coherent radiations, ultimately promoting high-contrast imaging of biological samples August 21st, 2014

Homeland Security

Watching Schrödinger's cat die (or come to life): Steering quantum evolution & using probes to conduct continuous error correction in quantum computers July 30th, 2014

Production of Toxic Gas Sensor Based on Nanorods July 28th, 2014

Nano-sized Chip "Sniffs Out" Explosives Far Better than Trained Dogs: TAU researcher's groundbreaking sensor detects miniscule concentrations of hazardous materials in the air July 23rd, 2014

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity July 19th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE