They report that a new way to "grow" the element selenium may lead to faster and denser circuitry. Researchers found that nanospheres of selenium would grow on three different types of common bacteria. The nanospheres had good optical and semiconducting properties and were fundamentally different from amorphous selenium particles formed by chemical means.

"Surprisingly, we found different bacteria produce spheres with varying arrangements of the selenium atoms and, hence, different optical properties," says Pulickel Ajayan, professor of materials science and engineering. "These conditions cannot be achieved by current methods of chemical synthesis," he adds.