First Motor Powered By Living Bacteria

Mycoplasma mobile, a micrometer-sized bacterium, pushes the rotor in the first motor powered by bacteria.


(Motor powered by living bacteria
1) Overview of silicon track
2) Two cells glide along the wall in the track
3) Bacteria bind to and pull the rotor)

The bacteria-driven motor consists of a square central basin into which the M. mobile are deposited. As they move throughout the square, they eventually reach a side and move along it until approaching an entrance to one of four circular tracks. The entrance ways ensure that a majority of bacteria glide in the same direction around the tracks, which are each fitted with rotors that have protrusions in the track to allow the bacteria to bind to and pull the rotors.

"Mycoplasma is just one example of microorganisms with interesting and potentially useful properties," Hiratsuka told PhysOrg.com. "For instance, there is a gliding bacterium that moves using energy provided by photosynthesis. Chlamyodomonas swim toward light (phototaxis), and Dictyostelium amoeba crawl toward a specific chemical substance (chemotaxis). Though there is no way we can predict what exciting micro devices will result from these organisms, for mycoplasma, we can suggest using it as a micro pump in a microTAS. This would eliminate the need for external pumps and pipes, becoming a ‘true’ on-chip device. We might also construct electric generator systems, which convert abundant chemical energy, glucose in the body, into electric energy. In far future plans, we would like to make micro-robots driven by biological motors, which could move around and do mechanical work in the micrometer world."
(From Bacteria-powered motor)

Once the bacteria reach the circular tracks, the rotors begin to move at speeds of up to 2.6 revolutions per minute.

If you are curious about other unusual achievements by bacteria, consider these articles:

Read more at New motor first to be powered by living bacteria.

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