Researchers at the University of Leeds found that a type of bacteria that digests iron could be used to create cheaper, more environmentally-friendly electronics. One potential application would be the creation of tiny magnets that could be used to make larger HDDs and faster connections. Full details at TG Daily.
"We are quickly reaching the limits of traditional electronic manufacturing as computer components get smaller," says Leeds' Dr Sarah Staniland.
"The machines we've traditionally used to build them are clumsy at such small scales. Nature has provided us with the perfect tool to circumvent this problem."
The magnetic array was created using a protein which creates perfect nanocrystals of magnetite inside the bacterium Magnetospirilllum magneticum. This protein is attached to a gold surface in a checkerboard pattern and placed in a solution containing iron.
At a temperature of 80°C, similarly-sized crystals of magnetite form on the sections of the surface covered by the protein.