As nanotechnology makes possible a world of machines too tiny to see, researchers are finding ways to combine living organisms with nonliving machinery to solve a variety of problems.
Like other first-generation bio-robots, the new nanobot engineered at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a far cry from Robocop. It's a robotic germ.
Credit: Berry Research Laboratory at UIC
Graphene quantum dots deposited on a sporating bacteria produces a graphene coated spore. Upon attachment of electrodes across the cell, a bio-electronic device is produced that is highly sensitive to humidity. Here, the spore reacts actively to humidity; and the reaction is translated to an electronic response from the interfaced graphene quantum dots.
UIC researchers created an electromechanical device—a humidity sensor—on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. The report is online at Scientific Reports, a Nature open access journal.
“We’ve taken a spore from a bacteria, and put graphene quantum dots on its surface—and then attached two electrodes on either side of the spore,” said Vikas Berry, UIC associate professor of chemical engineering and principal investigator on the study.
“Then we change the humidity around the spore,” he said.
When the humidity drops, the spore shrinks as water is pushed out. As it shrinks, the quantum dots come closer together, increasing their conductivity, as measured by the electrodes.
“We get a very clean response—a very sharp change the moment we change humidity,” Berry said. The response was 10 times faster, he said, than a sensor made with the most advanced man-made water-absorbing polymers.
There was also better sensitivity in extreme low-pressure, low-humidity situations.
“We can go all the way down to a vacuum and see a response,” said Berry, which is important in applications where humidity must be kept low, for example, to prevent corrosion or food spoilage. "It’s also important in space applications, where any change in humidity could signal a leak,” he said.
Currently available sensors increase in sensitivity as humidity rises, Berry said. NERD's sensitivity is actually higher at low humidity.
“This is a fascinating device,” Berry said. “Here we have a biological entity. We’ve made the sensor on the surface of these spores, with the spore a very active complement to this device. The biological complement is actually working towards responding to stimuli and providing information.”
T. S. Sreeprasad and Phong Nguyen of UIC were lead co-authors on the study. Sreeprasad, a postdoctoral fellow, is now at Rice University in Houston. Ahmed Alshogeathri, Luke Hibbeler, Fabian Martinez and Nolan McNeiland, undergraduate students from Kansas State University, were also co-authors on the paper.
The study was supported by the Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research and partial support from the National Science Foundation (CMMI-1054877, CMMI-0939523 and CMMI-1030963) and the Office of Naval Research (N000141110767).
Associate Director, News Bureau
Jeanne Galatzer-Levy | University of Illinois at Chicago
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing
21.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows
21.11.2017 | US Geological Survey
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences