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
Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling
29.03.2017 | New Jersey Institute of Technology
NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences