To avoid system errors, if Chrome is your preferred browser, please update to the latest version of Chrome (81 or higher) or use an alternative browser.
Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
Download File (mp3)
Please upgrade to a newer browser.
Lede: Thirty years ago, a bacteria from the Potomac River was found to produce its own tiny wires that conduct electricity. Just last month, an even more surprising discovery was announced.
Randy Atkins: Microbiologist Derek Lovley shared those nanowires made by his bacteria with a University of Massachusetts colleague, electrical engineer Jun Yao. As a grad student in Yao’s lab played around with the bacterial wires, he noticed an electrical current…even though there wasn’t a power source. They figured out that…
Jun Yao: Essentially, we are creating electricity from the water component in the air.
Randy Atkins: Similar to lightning. The possibilities are mindboggling. Yao says the nanowires could be stacked for amplification, made in any shape, and produce completely clean power anywhere 24-7.
Jun Yao: In principle, we really don’t need any other energy source. That’s how we actually envision the future.
Randy Atkins: Yao imagines uses in electronic wearables, cell phones, and ultimately even in powering your home. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.