Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Nanospiked bacteria are the brightest hard X-ray emitters


In a step that overturns traditional assumptions and practice, researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhi Nagar have fashioned bacteria to emit intense, hard x-ray radiation.

When one thinks of hard x-rays and bacteria it is usually that the bacteria are at the receiving end of the x-ray source - being imaged, irradiated for some modification or simply assessed for radiation damage.

This image shows a 10,000 fold enhanced X-ray emission from nanoparticle doped bacteria, from plasma generated by intense ultra short infrared pulses.

Credit: Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

One hardly thinks of using bacteria as a source of x-rays, far from turning them into the brightest among such sources.

The experiment consists of a femtosecond, infrared, high intensity laser irradiating a glass slide coated with E. coli bacterial cells, turning the cell material into a hot, dense plasma. Laser driven plasmas have been known to be very useful table top x-ray sources and efforts are constantly being made to improve their brightness.

One such effort, an important one, has been to create plasmas on a nanostructured surface where the nanostructure amplifies the incident intensity by electromagnetic local field enhancement.

The present advance has been made possible by the insight the researchers had when they realized that natural micro and nanostructures in the bacteria can be readily used for such intensity enhancement leading to hotter, brighter plasma.

They showed that the bacterial cells increased the x-ray flux by a factor of 100 in the 50 - 300 keV x-ray region [1]. Further they grow the bacterial cells in a silver chloride solution whereby the silver atoms aggregated as nanoparticles inside the cell.

They could then use these bacteria spiked with nanoparticles to boost the emission another 100 times, leading to an overall enhancement of 10,000 times from the flux emitted by plain glass slides without the bacterial coating [1]. This is the highest conversion of laser light to hard x-rays ever achieved.

This lateral stride could potentially lead to biologically inspired plasma physics and high energy density science with myriad applications among novel particle sources, creation of extreme excited states and related areas.


Contact M. Krishnamurthy ( for more information.

[1] Enhanced x-ray emission from nano-particle doped bacteria, Krishnamurthy, Opt. Exp. (2015); ibid Opt. Exp. 20, 5754-5761 (2012).

Media Contact

M Krishnamurthy

M Krishnamurthy | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>