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World


Bacteria eats gold, produces solar fuel

Washington, Oct 13 (UNI) Scientists have discovered a bacteria, which has a great appetite for gold!
Researchers have discovered a bacterium named Moorella thermoacetica, which consumes the precious yellow metal and in exchange, produces solar fuel through artificial photosynthesis.
M thermoacetica first made its debut as the first non-photosensitive bacterium to carry out artificial photosynthesis in a study led by Peidong Yang, a professor in UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry.
By attaching light-absorbing nanoparticles made of cadmium sulfide (CdS) to the bacterial membrane exterior, the researchers turned M thermoacetica into a tiny photosynthesis machine, converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into useful chemicals.
Now Yang and his team of researchers have found a better way to entice this CO2-hungry bacterium into being even more productive.
By placing light-absorbing gold nanoclusters inside the bacterium, they have created a biohybrid system that produces a higher yield of chemical products than previously demonstrated. The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology.
"We selected Au22 because it's ideal for absorbing visible light and has the potential for driving the CO2 reduction process. When we inspected them under the microscope, we discovered that the bacteria were loaded with these Au22 clusters -- and were still happily alive."
The researchers also selected Au22 - dubbed by the researchers as "magic" gold nanoclusters - for its ultrasmall size: A single Au22 nanocluster is only 1 nanometer in diameter, allowing each nanocluster to easily slip through the bacterial cell wall.
The magic gold nanocluster is the latest discovery coming out of Yang's lab, which for the past six years has focused on using biohybrid nanostructures to convert CO2 into useful chemicals, as part of an ongoing effort to find affordable, abundant resources for renewable fuels, and potential solutions to thwart the effects of climate change.
UNI XC RJ 1846
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