University of Oxford scientists are a step closer to creating microscopic wind farms which could power small machines such as smartphone microphones.
In a study published by the journal Science Advances today, the wonks used computer simulations to show how the swarming effect of bacteria can turn multiple motors in order to generate power.
"Like gusts of wind driving wind turbines, the active turbulance [of bacteria] is spinning these rotas," co-author Dr Tyler Shendruk, from Oxford University’s department of physics, told City A.M.
They added that these tiny bacteria driven power plants could someday be the engines of small, man-made devices that are self-assembled and self-powered – ranging from optical switches to smartphone components.
Co-author Dr Amin Doostmohammadi, from Oxford University’s Department of Physics, said: "The ability to get even a tiny amount of mechanical work from these biological systems is valuable because they do not need an input power and use internal biochemical processes to move around."
"At micro scales, our simulations show that the flow generated by biological assemblies is capable of reorganising itself in such a way as to generate a persistent mechanical power for rotating an array of microrotors."
Senior author Professor Julia Yeomans, from Oxford University’s Department of Physics, added: "Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs."