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Researchers demonstrate production of graphene using bacteria

Researchers have figured out a novel method to produce graphene, an amazing substance in a cheaper way with the help of bacteria. Graphene is a very useful material in filtering water, dyeing hair and great strengthening of substances. The study has been published in ChemistryOpen.

When the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis is mixed with oxidized graphite or graphene oxide (which is comparatively easy to produce but not conductive due to oxygen groups), the oxygen groups are withdrawn and conductive graphene is obtained as the product. It is inexpensive, quicker and more eco-friendly than the existing methods to produce the substance. It can also be stored for a long period of time making it appropriate for various applications. Using this method, we can produce graphene at a scale required for computing and medical devices of the next generation.

“For real applications, you need large amounts,” says biologist Anne Meyer from the University of Rochester in New York.

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Using the new method, Meyer and her colleagues were able to make graphene that’s thinner, more stable, and longer-lasting than graphene that’s produced by chemical manufacturing. This will unlock all sort of opportunities for less costly bacteria-produced graphene and can be used in field-effect transistor (FET) biosensors.  It is a tool that identifies specific biological molecule such as glucose tracking for diabetics.

Bacteria production method leaves back specific oxygen group. It makes resulting graphene compatible to link with specific molecules. Graphene material obtained from this method can be used as conductive ink in circuit boards, computer keyboards or in small wires to unfreeze car windscreen or to produce one-sided conductive graphene by twisting the bacteria process. It can also lead to the creation of innovative computer technologies and medical equipment.

At present, graphene is produced by different chemical methods using graphite or graphene oxide compared to the past method where graphite was extracted by graphite blocks using sticky tape. The new method of production is the most favorable one to date without the use of unpleasant chemicals. Prior to scaling up and using it to develop next-generation devices, lots of research needs to be done to study the bacteria process. However, the future of this extraordinary material continues to look bright. Meyer said that bacterially produced graphene material will guide to much better applicability for product development and development of nanocomposite materials.

Journal: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/open.201900186

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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