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Mini Magnets Comprise Ancient Bacteria

Scientists in Manchester, UK have found a clean and green way of making tiny magnets for high tech gadgets—using natural bacteria that have been around for millions of years. The work by a team of geomicrobiologists from the Univ. of Manchester paves the way for nanometer-size magnets – used in mobile phones and recording devices – to be made without the usual nasty chemicals and energy intensive methods.

Researchers studied iron-reducing bacteria that occur naturally in soils and sediments and found they can be used to create iron oxide nanoparticles with magnetic properties similar to those created through complex chemical processes.

Working with colleagues in Birmingham and Cardiff, the Manchester researchers also found a way of exercising precise control over the size and magnetic strength of nanomagnets produced.

The high-tech particle accelerators at the Advanced Light Source at the famous Berkeley Labs near San Francisco, and the UK’s Diamond Light Source in Oxford at Harwell were used to verify findings.

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