Chemistry Times
Recent News |  Archives |  Tags |  About |  Newsletter |  Submit News |  Links |  Subscribe to ChemistryTimes.com RSS Feed Subscribe


More Articles
Lift weights, improve your memoryLift weights, improve your memory

Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubesBeyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes

Hubble project maps temperature, water vapor on wild exoplanetHubble project maps temperature, water vapor on wild exoplanet

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny waysMagnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealedStructure of an iron-transport protein revealed

First step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagusFirst step: From human cells to tissue-engineered esophagus

Charged graphene gives DNA a stage to perform molecular gymnasticsCharged graphene gives DNA a stage to perform molecular gymnastics

A unique approach to monitoring groundwater supplies near Ohio fracking sitesA unique approach to monitoring groundwater supplies near Ohio fracking sites

Myelin vital for learning new practical skillsMyelin vital for learning new practical skills

Autophagy helps fast track stem cell activationAutophagy helps fast track stem cell activation

Spiders: Survival of the fittest groupSpiders: Survival of the fittest group

More physical activity improved school performanceMore physical activity improved school performance

Building a bridge from basic botany to applied agricultureBuilding a bridge from basic botany to applied agriculture

Engineering new vehicle powertrainsEngineering new vehicle powertrains

Stunning finds from ancient Greek shipwreckStunning finds from ancient Greek shipwreck

Around the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red foxAround the world in 400,000 years: The journey of the red fox

Active aging is much more than exerciseActive aging is much more than exercise

Study: New device can slow, reverse heart failureStudy: New device can slow, reverse heart failure

Are the world's religions ready for ET?Are the world's religions ready for ET?

Gut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intoleranceGut bacteria, artificial sweeteners and glucose intolerance

Recreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networksRecreating the stripe patterns found in animals by engineering synthetic gene networks

Laying the groundwork for data-driven scienceLaying the groundwork for data-driven science

Hold on, tiger momHold on, tiger mom

Nature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologiesNature's designs inspire research into new light-based technologies

Missing piece found to help solve concussion puzzleMissing piece found to help solve concussion puzzle

Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'Biologists delay the aging process by 'remote control'

Geography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economyGeography matters: Model predicts how local 'shocks' influence U.S. economy

Identified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonationIdentified for the first time what kind of explosive has been used after the detonation

Copied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithmsCopied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithms

Synthetic cells shed biological insights while delivering battery power (10/27/2009)

Tags:
nanotech, cells
Image of two artificial cells that can act as a tiny battery.  Each cell has a droplet of a water-based solution containing a salt -- potassium and chloride ions -- enclosed within a lipid wall. If the solutions in the two cells start with different salt concentrations, then poking thin metal electrodes into the droplets creates a small electric battery. -  NIST
Image of two artificial cells that can act as a tiny battery. Each cell has a droplet of a water-based solution containing a salt -- potassium and chloride ions -- enclosed within a lipid wall. If the solutions in the two cells start with different salt concentrations, then poking thin metal electrodes into the droplets creates a small electric battery. - NIST

Trying to understand the complex workings of a biological cell by teasing out the function of every molecule within it is a daunting task. But by making synthetic cells that include just a few chemical processes, researchers can study cellular machinery one manageable piece at a time. A new paper* from researchers at Yale University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) describes a highly simplified model cell that not only sheds light on the way certain real cells generate electric voltages, but also acts as a tiny battery that could offer a practical alternative to conventional solid-state energy-generating devices.

Each synthetic cell built by NIST engineer David LaVan and his colleagues has a droplet of a water-based solution containing a salt-potassium and chloride ions-enclosed within a wall made of a lipid, a molecule with one end that is attracted to water molecules while the other end repels them. When two of these "cells" come into contact, the water-repelling lipid ends that form their outsides touch, creating a stable double bilayer that separates the two cells' interiors, just as actual cell membranes do.

If the researchers only did that much, nothing interesting would happen, but they also inserted into the bilayer a modified form of a protein, alpha-hemolysin, made by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. These embedded proteins create pores that act as channels for ions, mimicking the pores in a biological cell. "This preferentially allows either positive or negative ions to pass through the bilayer and creates a voltage across it," LaVan says. "We can harness this voltage to generate electric current."

If the solutions in the two cells start with different salt concentrations, then poking thin metal electrodes into the droplets creates a small battery: electrons will flow through a circuit connected to the electrodes, counterbalancing the ion flow through the channels. As this happens, the ion concentrations in the droplets eventually equalize as the system discharges its electric potential.

Building synthetic versions of complex real cells-such as those that enable an electric eel to zap its prey-is far too difficult a task for now, says LaVan. So the researchers instead created this far simpler system whose performance they could understand in terms a handful of basic properties, including the size of the droplets, the concentration of the aqueous solutions, and the number of ion channels in the barrier between the two cells.

A tiny battery with two droplets, each containing just 200 nanoliters of solution, could deliver electricity for almost 10 minutes. A bigger system, with a total volume of almost 11 microliters, lasted more than four hours. In terms of the energy it can deliver for a given volume, the biological battery is only about one-twentieth as effective as a conventional lead-acid battery. But in its ability to convert chemical into electrical energy, the synthetic cell has an efficiency of about 10 per cent, which compares well with solid-state devices that generate electricity from heat, light, or mechanical stress-so that synthetic cells may one day take their place in the nanotechnology toolbox.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Post Comments:

Search
New Articles
Atmospheric chemistry hinges on better physics model

Facetless crystals that mimic starfish shells could advance 3-D-printing pills

Through the combining glass

Major breakthrough could help detoxify pollutants

Stressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries failStressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries fail

Breakthrough allows researchers to watch molecules 'wiggle'

Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteriesDispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own powerBatteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

Continuous fabrication system for highly aligned polymer films provides method for tuning mechanical and thermal properties in bulk polymersContinuous fabrication system for highly aligned polymer films provides method for tuning mechanical and thermal properties in bulk polymers

Snapshots of chemical reactions: Characterizing an important reactive intermediateSnapshots of chemical reactions: Characterizing an important reactive intermediate

$18 million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights$18 million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights

Chinese scientists unveil liquid phase 3-D printing method using low melting metal alloy inkChinese scientists unveil liquid phase 3-D printing method using low melting metal alloy ink

Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cellsBlades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Taking thin films to the extremeTaking thin films to the extreme

New material steals oxygen from the airNew material steals oxygen from the air



Archives
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007


Science Friends
Agricultural Science
Astronomy News
Sports Tech
Biology News
Biomimicry Science
Cognitive Research
Tissue Engineering
Cancer Research
Cybernetics Research
Electonics Research
Forensics Report
Fossil News
Genetic Archaeology
Genetics News
Geology News
Microbiology Research
Nanotech News
Parenting News
Physics News


  Archives |  Submit News |  Advertise With Us |  Contact Us |  Links
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. All contents © 2000 - 2015 Web Doodle, LLC. All rights reserved.