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Concept: Electrical conductor


Conventional ways of making bio-electrodes are generally complicated, expensive and unconformable. Here we describe for the first time the method of applying Ga-based liquid metal ink as drawable electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes. Such material owns unique merits in both liquid phase conformability and high electrical conductivity, which provides flexible ways for making electrical circuits on skin surface and a prospective substitution of conventional rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Electroencephalography, Liquid, Electrical conductivity, Electrical engineering, Printed circuit board, Breadboard, Electronic engineering


Processing and manipulation of highly conductive pristine graphene in large quantities are still major challenges in the practical application of graphene for electric device. In the present study, we report the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite in toluene using well-defined poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to produce a P3HT/graphene composite. We synthesize and use regioregular P3HT with controlled molecular weights as conductive dispersants for graphene. Simple ultrasonication of graphite flakes with the P3HT successfully produces single-layer and few-layer graphene sheets dispersed in toluene. The produced P3HT/graphene composite can be used as conductive graphene ink, indicating that the P3HT/graphene composite has high electrical conductivity owing to the high conductivity of P3HT and graphene. The P3HT/graphene composite also works as an oxidation-resistant and conductive film for a copper substrate, which is due to the high gas-barrier property of graphene.

Concepts: Electricity, Electrical conductor, Aluminium, Copper, Graphite, Graphene, Electrical conductivity, Fullerene


The electrically conductive pili (e-pili) of Geobacter sulfurreducens serve as a model for a novel strategy for long-range extracellular electron transfer. e-pili are also a new class of bioelectronic materials. However, the only other Geobacter pili previously studied, which were from G. uraniireducens, were poorly conductive. In order to obtain more information on the range of pili conductivities in Geobacter species, the pili of G. metallireducens were investigated. Heterologously expressing the PilA gene of G. metallireducens in G. sulfurreducens yielded a G. sulfurreducens strain, designated strain MP, that produced abundant pili. Strain MP exhibited phenotypes consistent with the presence of e-pili, such as high rates of Fe(III) oxide reduction and high current densities on graphite anodes. Individual pili prepared at physiologically relevant pH 7 had conductivities of 277 ± 18.9 S/cm (mean ± standard deviation), which is 5,000-fold higher than the conductivity of G. sulfurreducens pili at pH 7 and nearly 1 million-fold higher than the conductivity of G. uraniireducens pili at the same pH. A potential explanation for the higher conductivity of the G. metallireducens pili is their greater density of aromatic amino acids, which are known to be important components in electron transport along the length of the pilus. The G. metallireducens pili represent the most highly conductive pili found to date and suggest strategies for designing synthetic pili with even higher conductivities.

Concepts: Electron, Gene, Electric charge, Electricity, Fundamental physics concepts, Electrical conductor, Standard deviation, Electrical conductivity


Oxygen consumption in marine sediments is often coupled to the oxidation of sulphide generated by degradation of organic matter in deeper, oxygen-free layers. Geochemical observations have shown that this coupling can be mediated by electric currents carried by unidentified electron transporters across centimetre-wide zones. Here we present evidence that the native conductors are long, filamentous bacteria. They abounded in sediment zones with electric currents and along their length they contained strings with distinct properties in accordance with a function as electron transporters. Living, electrical cables add a new dimension to the understanding of interactions in nature and may find use in technology development.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Electricity, Electric current, Lightning, Electrical conductor, Sediment, Molecule


The tidal flow of electrically conductive oceans through the geomagnetic field results in the generation of secondary magnetic signals, which provide information on the subsurface structure. Data from the new generation of satellites were shown to contain magnetic signals due to tidal flow; however, there are no reports that these signals have been used to infer subsurface structure. We use satellite-detected tidal magnetic fields to image the global electrical structure of the oceanic lithosphere and upper mantle down to a depth of about 250 km. The model derived from more than 12 years of satellite data reveals a ≈72-km-thick upper resistive layer followed by a sharp increase in electrical conductivity likely associated with the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary, which separates colder rigid oceanic plates from the ductile and hotter asthenosphere.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Earth, Electric current, Electrical conductor, Plate tectonics, Lithosphere, Electrical conductivity, Structure of the Earth


A low temperature chemical vapor deposition (CVD) growth of Ge nanowires using Ga as seed material is demonstrated. The structural and chemical analysis reveals the homogeneous incorporation of ~3.5 at% Ga in the Ge NWs. The Ga-containing Ge nanowires behave like metallic conductors with resistivity values down to ~300 µΩcm due to Ga hyperdoping with electronic contributions of one third of the incorporated Ga atoms. This is the highest conduction values observed by in situ doping of group IV nanowires reported to date. This work demonstrates that Ga is both an efficient seed material at low temperatures for Ge nanowire growth and an effective dopant rendering the semiconductor into a metal-like conductor.

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Chemistry, Semiconductor, Silicon, Solar cell, Chemical vapor deposition, Germanium, Electrical conductivity


The glue-coated and wet capture spiral of the orb web of the garden cross spider Araneus diadematus is suspended between the dry silk radial and web frame threads. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that the capture spiral is electrically conductive because of necks of liquid connecting the droplets even if the thread is stretched. We examine how this conductivity of the capture spiral may lead to entrapment of charged airborne particles such as pollen, spray droplets and even insects. We further describe and model how the conducting spiral will also locally distort the Earth’s ambient electric field. Finally, we examine the hypothesis that such distortion could be used by potential prey to detect the presence of a web but conclude that any effect would probably be too small to allow an insect to take evasive action.

Concepts: Electric charge, Electricity, Insect, Electrical conductor, Electrical conductivity, Spider, European garden spider, Araneus


Electrically conductive polymer nanocomposites have been applied extensively in many fields to develop the next generation of devices. Large amounts of conductive nanofillers in polymer matrices are, however, often required for a sufficiently high electrical conductivity, which in turn deteriorates the desired thermomechanical properties. We illustrate a novel but facile strategy to improve the electrical conductivity and the thermomechanical property of silver nanowire/polymer nanocomposites. We find that one may increase the electrical conductivity of sliver nanowire/polymer nanocomposites by up to about 8 orders of magnitude by introducing silica nanoparticles with nanocomposites. The electrical percolation threshold volume fraction of silver nanowires decreases from 0.12 to 0.02. Thermomechanical properties also improve as silica nanoparticles are introduced. We carry out extensive Monte Carlo simulations to elucidate the effects of silica nanoparticles at a molecular level and find that van der Waals attractive interaction between silica nanoparticles and silver nanowires dominates over the depletion-induced interaction between silver nanowires, thus improving the dispersion of silver nanowires. Without silica nanoparticles, silver nanowires tend to aggregate, which is why additional silver nanowires are required for a desired electrical conductivity. On the other hand, with silica nanoparticles mixed, the electrical percolating network is likely to form at a smaller volume fraction of silver nanowires.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Electrical conductor, Copper, Simulation, Gold, Silver, Computer simulation, Electrical conductivity


Highly stretchable, actuatable, electrically conductive knitted textiles based on Spandex (SPX)/CNT (carbon nanotube) composite yarns were prepared by an integrated knitting procedure. SPX filaments were continuously wrapped with CNT aerogel sheets and supplied directly to an interlocking circular knitting machine to form the three-dimensional electrically conductive and stretchable textiles. By adjusting the SPX/CNT feed ratio, the fabric electrical conductivities could be tailored in the range of 870 to 7092 S/m. The electrical conductivity depended on tensile strain, with a linear and largely hysteresis-free resistance change occurring on loading and unloading between 0 and 80% strain. Electrothermal heating of the stretched fabric caused large tensile contractions of up to 33%, and generated a gravimetric mechanical work capacity during contraction of up to 0.64 kJ/kg and a maximum specific power output of 1.28 kW/kg, which far exceeds that of mammalian skeletal muscle. The knitted textile provides the combination of strain sensing and the ability to control dimensions required for smart clothing that simultaneously monitors the wearer’s movements and adjusts the garment fit or exerts forces or pressures on the wearer, according to needs. The developed processing method is scalable for the fabrication of industrial quantities of strain sensing and actuating smart textiles.

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Carbon nanotube, Electrical conductivity, Textile, Knitting, Clothing, Felt, Circular knitting


Silver nanowires (AgNW) synthesized by a solvothermal method were incorporated into a polycarbonate matrix by a solution mixing procedure. Films with a thickness around 18 μm were obtained, showing a good distribution of the wires within the polymer matrix. The thermal stability of the polymer matrix increased significantly, with the main decomposition peak shifting up to 74 ° C for an AgNW loading of 4.35 wt%. The percolation threshold was obtained at very low AgNW content (0.04 wt%), and the composite electrical conductivity at the maximum loading (4.35 wt%) was 41.3 Ω cm. Excellent transparency was obtained at the percolation threshold, with negligible reduction in the transmittance of the polymer matrix (from 88.2 to 87.6% at 0.04 wt% loading of AgNW). In addition, the polymer matrix protected the silver nanowires from oxidation, as demonstrated by the XPS analysis.

Concepts: Electrical conductor, Polymer, Aluminium, Copper, Plastic, Electrical conductivity, Transparent materials, Polymers