Using Magnetic Bacteria to Construct the Biocomputer of the Future | Popular Science: The bacterium Magnetospirilllum magneticum is a naturally occurring microorganism that lives in underwater environs, using its natural magnetism to swim up and down the Earth’s magnetic field lines in search of oxygen. But when they eat iron, special proteins generate tiny crystals of the mineral magnetite within the bacteria, imbuing them with a tiny piece of one of the more magnetic natural materials on the planet.
By feeding the bacteria iron and manipulating the way they colonize, the researchers think they can essentially grow tiny magnets that could serve as components in the minuscule hard drives of the future. Whereas it’s very difficult to make very small magnets and shape them so that they can serve as memory devices, these proteins and the bacteria in which they reside can be coaxed into doing all the hard work, creating the magnetic material and churning out regularly-shaped blocks of it.
Moreover, the team has been working to produce tiny electrical wires that allow the exchange of information through cell membranes, allowing for nanoscale communication inside of a computer made up of biological cells.