Vital interplay between microorganisms and extracellular minerals


Some minerals abundant in soils and in aquatic and subsurface sediments electronically support microbial growth by supplying electrons or storing them as “environmental batteries,” according to this new review article. Microbial cells derive chemical energy from metals associated with minerals outside the cell wall, but in many cases the microbial cell envelope is physically impermeable to minerals, or is not electrically conductive. Because of these barriers some microorganisms have evolved strategies to exchange electrons with extracellular minerals. The article outlines advances in understanding the mechanisms that allow needed electron exchange. Some mechanisms involve redox and structural proteins that form extensive electron transfer pathways. Others rely on microbial nanowires, which are conductive bacterial appendages anchored in the cell envelope, or they rely on ridged “cable bacteria.”

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‘Missing link’ found in the development of bioelectronic medicines


In a new study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers showed that memristors could provide real-time processing of neuronal signals (spiking events) leading to efficient data compression and the potential to develop more precise and affordable neuroprosthetics and bioelectronic medicines.

Memristors are electrical components that limit or regulate the flow of electrical current in a circuit and can remember the amount of charge that was flowing through it and retain the data, even when the power is turned off.

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Complex sound fields in 3 dimensions are created to manipulate objects in liquids and air without touching them

Here we introduce monolithic acoustic holograms,
which can reconstruct diffraction-limited acoustic pressure fields and thus arbitrary ultrasound beams. We use rapid fabrication to craft the holograms and achieve reconstruction degrees of freedom two orders of magnitude higher than commercial
phased array sources. The technique is inexpensive, appropriate
for both transmission and reflection elements, and scales well to
higher information content, larger aperture size and higher power.
The complex three-dimensional pressure and phase distributions
produced by these acoustic holograms allow us to demonstrate
new approaches to controlled ultrasonic manipulation of solids
in water, and of liquids and solids in air. We expect that acoustic
holograms will enable new capabilities in beam-steering and the
contactless transfer of power, improve medical imaging, and drive
new applications of ultrasound.

3-D nanoprinting to turbocharge microscopes


Tiny sensors made through nanoscale 3-D printing may be the basis for the next generation of atomic force microscopes. These nanosensors can enhance the microscopes’ sensitivity and detection speed by miniaturizing their detection component up to 100 times. The sensors were used in a real-world application for the first time at EPFL, and the results are published in Nature Communications.

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IBM lab-on-a-chip breakthrough aims to help physicians detect cancer

IBM scientists have developed a new lab-on-a-chip technology that can, for the first time, separate biological particles at the nanoscale and could enable physicians to detect diseases such as cancer before symptoms appear.

As reported today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the IBM team’s results show size-based separation of bioparticles down to 20 nanometers (nm) in diameter, a scale that gives access to important particles such as DNA, viruses and . Once separated, these particles can potentially be analyzed by physicians to reveal signs of disease even before patients experience any and when the outcome from treatment is most positive. Until now, the smallest bioparticle that could be separated by size with on-chip technologies was about 50 times or larger, for example, separation of circulating tumor cells from other biological components.



IBM lab-on-a-chip breakthrough aims to help physicians detect cancer