Episode Summary

Bacteria can aide the production of the useful material graphene, using their ability to add electrons to external surfaces!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Brevibacterium frigoritolerans

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Advanced materials often take advanced techniques to create, but they offer numerous benefits: increased strength and flexibility, smaller size, more options. One such material is graphene, which is basically a sheet of carbon atoms linked together like chainmail. It is only a single atom thick but is amazingly strong, mostly transparent, and good at conducting heat and electricity.

The trick is, it's hard to make in large quantities cheaply and easily. Sheets of carbons can be obtained from blocks of graphite, but these sheets are graphene oxide, which lack the desirable properties of graphene. Chemical methods can be used to remove the oxidation, but they are harsh and difficult. Luckily, bacteria are great at microscopic remodeling. In this study, electron-transferring bacteria are able to reduce the graphene oxide to graphene with properties almost as good as are achieved by chemical reduction.

Journal Paper

Lehner BAE, Janssen VAEC, Spiesz EM, Benz D, Brouns SJJ, Meyer AS, van der Zant HSJ. 2019. Creation of Conductive Graphene Materials by Bacterial Reduction Using Shewanella oneidensis. ChemistryOpen 8:888–895.

Other interesting stories

Subscribe (free) on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Android, RSS, or by email.

Support the show at Patreon. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.