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Wheel of Life: Bacteria provide horsepower for tiny motor

For millennia, people have hitched beasts to plows to exploit the animals' strength and energy. In a modern variant of that practice, scientists have chemically harnessed bacteria to a micromotor so that they can make the device's rotor slowly turn.

The new work might lead to improved lab-on-a-chip devices and engines to propel microrobots, says Yuichi Hiratsuka, now of the University of Tokyo, who codeveloped the bacteria-powered micromotor. He and his colleagues describe the research in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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