These thin bacterial nano technology wires use particular key amino acids to conduct electricity.
The bacterium known as Geobacter sulfurreducens uses these wires from nature called pili to move iron particles or other microbes. The good news is that these nanowires can also be used by us humans to transport electricity for use in fuel cells or bioelectronics.
A core of aromatic amino acids are needed to modify these hair like appendages into nanowires that can efficiently carry electrons via biological wires.
The aromatic amino acids is the key ingredient that make the nanowire.
The bacteria, G. sulfurreducens, use their pili to reach out to iron oxides or other microbes and in this way they stretch out much like a wire quite a bit longer than the cell itself.
Moving electrons around is actually how all living things breath and the process is usually done through a type of nano-container that captures and shuttles the electron around from one area to another.
The difference with the pili in G. sulfurreducens is that it possesses metallic-like conductivity because of its ability to carry electrons along a long continuous structure.
This new discovery is a bit unusual and for biological science as it differs in how scientists currently understand how this electron carrying process normally works.
The scientists came up with this discovery by looking at how non-biological materials conduct electricity. In typical synthetic materials it all came down to aromatic compounds that made them good conductors.
The hypothesis was that maybe it would be similar with the Geobacter pili. They used aromatic amino acids to use for the compound because of the highly stable ring-shaped structure made up of carbon atoms.
The most promising application for this new discovery would be in fuel cell technology which is basically battery technology. What the energy utility industry and auto industry needs most of all is a more efficient, cheaper way to store energy we generate.
Consider that right now all electricity you receive to your house on the electric grid has just been produced and you use it on demand. The type of planning, predictions, and energy facility management is amazing when you think about it.
With nano-technology like this we may one day have energy in storage maybe on your electric pole available to have a constant source of back-up power which could work during peak periods of demand, like on a hot summer day.
Electricity is very costly during a hot summer day as many residences turn on their air conditioner. Generation plants have to kick on and electricity gets real expensive during these short intervals of time.
With efficient battery technology the peak demand cost for electricity could be drastically reduced and instead of paying 8 – 9 cents per kilowatt-hour you might be able to pay 4 – 5 cents per kilowatt-hour when you take out the cost of peak demand periods and their price tag.
In summary let’s hope there is a future for biological nanowires in producing a way to generate, store, and use energy more efficiently and at a cheaper cost for our own human benefit. Here’s to wanting green energy as it relates to a cheaper comparable price against other similar products in the market. Keep in mind these scientists didn’t invent something new, God already made it via nature in an amazing display of order and design. We now have clear science that shows a very efficient power grid network that gives mankind a road map on how to create electronics in the best way possible.