Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Boundary between electronics and biology is blurring: First proof of ferroelectricity in simplest amino acid

Date:
April 19, 2012
Source:
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
The boundary between electronics and biology is blurring with the first detection of ferroelectric properties in an amino acid called glycine.

ORNL researchers detected for the first time ferroelectric domains (seen as red stripes) in the simplest known amino acid – glycine.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The boundary between electronics and biology is blurring with the first detection by researchers at Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory of ferroelectric properties in an amino acid called glycine.

Related Articles


A multi-institutional research team led by Andrei Kholkin of the University of Aveiro, Portugal, used a combination of experiments and modeling to identify and explain the presence of ferroelectricity, a property where materials switch their polarization when an electric field is applied, in the simplest known amino acid -- glycine.

"The discovery of ferroelectricity opens new pathways to novel classes of bioelectronic logic and memory devices, where polarization switching is used to record and retrieve information in the form of ferroelectric domains," said coauthor and senior scientist at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) Sergei Kalinin.

Although certain biological molecules like glycine are known to be piezoelectric, a phenomenon in which materials respond to pressure by producing electricity, ferroelectricity is relatively rare in the realm of biology. Thus, scientists are still unclear about the potential applications of ferroelectric biomaterials.

"This research helps paves the way toward building memory devices made of molecules that already exist in our bodies," Kholkin said.

For example, making use of the ability to switch polarization through tiny electric fields may help build nanorobots that can swim through human blood. Kalinin cautions that such nanotechnology is still a long way in the future.

"Clearly there is a very long road from studying electromechanical coupling on the molecular level to making a nanomotor that can flow through blood," Kalinin said. "But unless you have a way to make this motor and study it, there will be no second and third steps. Our method can offer an option for quantitative and reproducible study of this electromechanical conversion."

The study, published in Advanced Functional Materials, builds on previous research at ORNL's CNMS, where Kalinin and others are developing new tools such as the piezoresponse force microscopy used in the experimental study of glycine.

"It turns out that piezoresponse force microsopy is perfectly suited to observe the fine details in biological systems at the nanoscale," Kalinin said. "With this type of microscopy, you gain the capability to study electromechanical motion on the level of a single molecule or small number of molecular assemblies. This scale is exactly where interesting things can happen."

Kholkin's lab grew the crystalline samples of glycine that were studied by his team and by the ORNL microscopy group. In addition to the experimental measurements, the team's theorists verified the ferroelectricity with molecular dynamics simulations that explained the mechanisms behind the observed behavior.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alejandro Heredia, Vincent Meunier, Igor K. Bdikin, José Gracio, Nina Balke, Stephen Jesse, Alexander Tselev, Pratul K. Agarwal, Bobby G. Sumpter, Sergei V. Kalinin, Andrei L. Kholkin. Nanoscale Ferroelectricity in Crystalline γ-Glycine. Advanced Functional Materials, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201103011

Cite This Page:

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Boundary between electronics and biology is blurring: First proof of ferroelectricity in simplest amino acid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419121531.htm>.
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2012, April 19). Boundary between electronics and biology is blurring: First proof of ferroelectricity in simplest amino acid. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419121531.htm
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Boundary between electronics and biology is blurring: First proof of ferroelectricity in simplest amino acid." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419121531.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Buzz60 (Oct. 31, 2014) — For its nature series Life Story, the BBC profiled the barnacle goose, whose chicks must make a daredevil 400-foot cliff dive from their nests to find food. Jen Markham has the astonishing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) — The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) — A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) — Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins