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UMass research recognized for exploring environmental advances in sustainable electronics

UMass research recognized for exploring environmental advances in sustainable electronics

June 16, 2020
Press Release: University of Massachusetts

Research on protein nanowires, a new electronic material with unique properties that is produced with bacteria, may provide ‘green’ components for sustainable electronics – and avoid the harmful environmental effects associated with man-made materials

Work by University of Massachusetts at Amherst microbiologist Derek Lovley has been recognized with the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize. The low-cost, sustainable green material has been developed in the Geobacter laboratory in the College of Natural Sciences, where Lovley and his colleagues say their advances hold great promise for a wide range of practical applications in sustainable energy generation, as well as in the production of electronic products such as biomedical sensors and memory storage devices.

The new material demonstrates a versatility not found in similar materials such as silicon nanowires or carbon nanotubes. It holds promise as a way of using bacteria to produce electrical wires.

According to Lovley, protein nanowires require much less energy to produce and do not require harsh chemicals or dangerous conditions to create. They are also biodegradable.

“These findings have many exciting applications, and the more time we invest studying the possibilities, the more we will understand how we can help the electronics industry be more sustainable and forward-thinking,” Lovley said.

The professor expressed gratitude for the prize, which is awarded after a close review by a panel of life science industry scientists and executives. It recognizes one CNS faculty member who is the principal author of peer-reviewed research that meets the broader goals of the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize, including advancing connections between academic research and industry.

The US$10,000 prize is usually featured at an awards ceremony on campus, but this year’s event has been postponed due to COVID-19.

“We are proud to support the expert research being carried out by UMass researchers through the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize,” said Richard Mahoney, former chairman and CEO of Monsanto Company. “It is critical that we do all we can to strengthen and promote the links between scientific innovation and industrial applications that solve critical problems and improve people’s lives.”

“Dr Lovley’s research is representative of those efforts, and he leads the state, nation and world in his area of microbiological research. The incredible breakthroughs that happen locally at UMass Amherst continue to place UMass at the forefront of research institutions everywhere.”

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