UMass Amherst Research Team Presents Electricity-Conducting Microbial Nanowires at National Physics Meeting in Boston on Feb. 27
Feb. 23, 2012
Contact: Janet Lathrop 413/545-0444
*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***
DATE: Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
TIME: 4 p.m.
WHAT: American Physical Society News Briefing
"Natural Materials for Unusual Applications"
WHERE: Boston Convention Center, Room 051
University of Massachusetts Amherst microbiologists and physicists will discuss their ground-breaking discovery of proteins that form nanowires in the microbe Geobacter, conducting electrons as if they were metal. Physicist Nikhil Malvankar will present new findings on how the nanowires’ conductivity can be harnessed to develop high-performance supercapacitors, transistors and high-current density microbial fuel cells.
The previously unknown property of pili in the Geobacter sulfurreducens allowing electron transport across long distances was reported in 2011 by lead microbiologist Derek Lovley and his UMass Amherst colleagues in Nature Nanotechnology.
Mark Tuominen, the team’s lead physicist, adds, "This discovery not only puts forward an important new principle in biology but in materials science. We can now investigate a range of new conducting nanomaterials that are living, naturally occurring, nontoxic, easier to produce and less costly than man-made. They may even allow us to use electronics in water and moist environments. It opens exciting opportunities for biological and energy applications that were not possible before."
Lovley points out that the APS meeting offers "a particularly promising opportunity for industry and the applied sciences community to meet and forge support for real-world applications of this fundamental discovery." Malvankar adds, "The American Physical Society’s meeting is one of the premier venues for our research field, so we’re really excited to have been invited to present our latest discoveries about Geobacter’s capabilities to our peers at a top-flight national meeting."
The APS selects few talks of broad interest for a public news briefing each year at its annual meeting.