Semiconductors from human proteins?

04/19/2012 21:02

News from Jerusalem:  It's weird, but it works: Award-winning Israeli research uses blood, milk and mucus proteins to build next-generation technology.

Making a silicon semi-conductor involves carving a sheet of the element silicon, kind of like carving a sculpture out of rock. It's the most common method of making transistors for everything from cellular phones to computers. But silicon is expensive, inflexible and environmentally problematic.

What if it were possible to make transistors from ordinary materials simply by coating them with readily available proteins -- for instance, human blood, milk or mucus?

That may seem really yucky, but biologists and chemists from Tel Aviv University say this nanotechnology approach is a flexible, "green" and inexpensive way to power the next generation of electronic devices.

Their research, published in the journals Nano Letters and Advanced Materials, received a silver award at the fall 2011 Materials Research Society Graduate Student Awards in Boston.

Working with blood, milk and mucus proteins -- which naturally self-assemble into a semi-conducting film -- PhD students Elad Mentovich, Netta Hendler and Bogdan Belgorodsky succeeded in taking the first step toward biodegradable display screens, and they aim to use this method to develop entire electronic devices.


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