Physicists from Russia, have studied how different «molecules of life» conduct current

© Photo : Press service of MIPT/Evgeny Motovilov Paleointensity in the laboratory teragertsovogo spectroscopy MIPTPhysicists from Russia, have studied how different «molecules of life» conduct current© Photo : Press service of MIPT/Evgeniy Pelevin

Physicists from Russia and the Czech Republic have studied how different proteins and other cell components carry electric current and came to the conclusion that this process can be described by the same set of ideas that are currently used in experiments with certain types of semiconductors, said in an article published in the journal Scientific Reports.

In recent years, scientists have been actively interested in how the various components of living beings interact with the electric current and how some microbes and fish-eels can produce a sufficiently strong discharges of electricity without killing themselves and causing them to move in the «right» direction. In the cells of other bacteria scientists recently found a molecule, reminiscent of the properties of the semiconductors.

Learning the secrets of such biological conductors and semiconductors could help scientists create a «live» alternative to metals and to develop materials that will not possess the brittleness and fragility inherent in the silicon and other classical semiconductors.

Disclosure of their properties, how to write Konstantin Motovilov Moscow Institute of physics and technology in Dolgoprudnyy and his colleagues, was complicated by the fact that scientists were not sure that the properties of such organic «wires» can be calculated using a universal set of equations, as for semiconductor and insulating materials, similar in structure to the liquid or glass.

Russian physicists have tested whether such a universal set of rules for organic materials, studying the electrical properties of two proteins, albumin and cytochrome C, which can be found in the blood and in the heart of people and animals, and threads, which are thrown into the environment of the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis is able to «catch» the metal ions out of water and collect them from the nanoparticles.

To do this, scientists put samples of these proteins and molecules in a special chamber where they could maintain as normal room temperature and to reduce it to almost absolute zero, and analyzed how these materials react to constant and alternating current of different frequencies, and electromagnetic waves of high frequencies.

As it turned out, the behaviour of all three substances, despite large differences in their electrical properties and chemical composition, is described by the same set of principles that apply when studying semiconductors. This allows you to use those theories and models that have been created by physicists in the study of the properties of liquid insulators, and semiconductors, for disclosing the secrets of their «cousins» of biological origin.