Electric Bacteria Form Nanowires, Shoot Out Electrons

8:29 minutes

Our bodies create energy by stealing electrons from food and transferring them to oxygen, which is what we need to breathe. But certain bacteria have figured out how to thrive in the absence of oxygen. They form tiny nanowires with their bodies, through which they dump their electrons onto rocks and other surfaces—creating, essentially, “breathing” rocks. USC’s Moh El-Naggar says engineers are now plugging those bacterial nanowires into fuel cells.

Segment Guests

Moh El-Naggar

Moh El-Naggar is an assistant professor in physics and biological sciences at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.