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Future smartphone could be powered by bacteria

The technique could be used to generate energy on a tiny scale and, if used widely enough, may make a big difference and help tackle the growing energy crisis (Image courtesy: www.dailymail.co.uk)

A team of scientists from Oxford University has showed how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic wind farms or other man-made micro-machines such as smartphone components. The team has used computer simulations to demonstrate that the chaotic swarming effect of dense active matter such as bacteria can be organised to turn cylindrical rotors and provide a steady power source.
Researchers say that these biologically-driven power plants could some day be the microscopic engines for tiny, man-made devices that are self-assembled and self-powered—everything from optical switches to smartphone microphones.

Dense bacterial suspensions are the quintessential example of active fluids that flow spontaneously. While swimming bacteria are capable of swarming and driving dis-organised living flows, these are normally too disordered to extract any useful power from.

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