DEC 20, 2018 9:59 AM PST

Bacteria-Powered Superfluids

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Viscosity is a basic property of a fluid. It is the measure of its resistance to asserted transformative stress, or in a simpler term, the friction between its molecules. 

According to the second law of thermodynamics, all fluids should have positive viscosity. But there's one exception--superfluids. For example, liquid helium at an ultra-cold temperature (close to the absolute zero) exhibits zero viscosity.

However, recently scientists discovered a new type of superfluid. It is a suspension with cultured bacteria, which shows zero or even negative viscosity at the ambient temperature. 

The idea of a negative viscosity seems to contradict the law of physics, but the biomass-based fluid is no ordinary fluids. The population of bacteria doesn't float around passively; instead, they mobilize (swim) as a group, which may generate sufficient forces that counterbalance friction. Therefore, the law of thermodynamics was not violated at all.

Researchers hope that their bacteria-based superfluid can be further developed into a new type of machinery since the microbes can continuous convert chemical energy (nutrients in the suspension) into mechanical work.

Source: Seeker via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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