"Everything I do is about finding something that microbes can do that we can't and then figuring out how they do it," Mohamed El-Naggar says as he pulls up images of anaerobic bacteria on his computer at the University of Southern California. This type of bug is incredibly common, he says. "If you dig a few centimeters in the soil in your garden, you're guaranteed to find them."
Scientists have known for decades that garden-variety anaerobic bacteria can move electrons to solid rock and that this transfer results in a tiny electrical charge. But exactly how they do so was poorly understood until three years ago, when El-Naggar discovered just how the bacteria grow protein nanowires to shuttle electrons to their surroundings. "It's a quality we're familiar with from our copper wires in our homes," says El-Naggar. "But for a biological molecule to do this, that's pretty unusual."
El-Naggar's lab is now trying to harness the microbes' metabolism to power electrical devices and build new nanostructures. They have already tapped into microbes' ability to use electrons from both arsenic and sulfur to make primitive arsenic-sulfide semiconductors. A next goal is to use the bacteria's metabolism to build semiconductors for clean-energy technologies such as solar cells. But it's still the bugs themselves that most fascinate El-Naggar. "What excites me even more than the applications," he says, "is the basic notion that some of the oldest microorganisms on the planet figured out effective tricks to move electrons around long before we even showed up."
Click here to see more from our 11th annual celebration of young researchers whose innovations will change the world
ماشاء الله .. وبالتوفيق دائما.
فخور بك يا دكتور و بكونك مصري وكدلك بما إني أحمل نفس اللقب.
I might as well go back and type my comments in binary.
Jaber Al-Najjar, California, why are you to shy to write in english. It is the legal first language of USA.
جابر النجار، كاليفورنيا، لماذا أنت خجولة للكتابة باللغة الإنجليزية. أنها لغة القانونية الأولى من الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية
Robot, ce n'est que les Americains qui lisent ces pages et l'anglais n'est pas la seule langue au monde. En fait, il y a plus que 3000 langues qui exsistent! On a le droit de publier nos commentaires dans la langue qu'on veut. Je vous recommande d'accepter cette réalité.
Oui, comme tu dis la réalité, blog web PopSci publier en anglais. Je sais que ma réalité, savez-vous la vôtre et celui que vous lisez? lol
Haha! Okay, I actually speak French.
My point was though that it's the internet! We can use any language that we want. GaberEl's message obviously wasn't for mono-lingual anglophones.
You likely used a translator to decipher that they are from California. You would have also been able to see that the comment was directed at the subject of this article, and not the general public.
It is not fair to accuse this person of shyness or to devalue their comment. Diversity of language reflects diversity of thought. The Popsci community should be, in my opinion, a community that fosters this.
Your suggestive ability to read minds is interesting. Google translate is fun and helpful. Yes, I did project shyness upon that person. I was hoping to prompt a reaction to why they posted their comment in an Arabic language in the first place. Now, it time to move on. Take care. ;)
English is in fact NOT the legal language of the United States. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_United_States)
I wouldn't have bothered but since you replied in binary I figured I had to raise my game.