New Transistor is Made from Blood and Mucus
Transistors and other components in electronics may one day be made from biological materials.
CREDIT: anaken2012 | Shutterstock.com
Carbon Valley or Protein Valley may not have quite the same ring as Silicon Valley, but in the future, the transistors and chips that go inside electronics won't just be made of silicon anymore. Researchers are looking for new materials that can make smaller, more flexible electronics than silicon can. One research team from Tel Aviv University is exploring a macabre-sounding option, according to interest group American Friends of Tel Aviv University: Making electronics out of the molecules that circulate in the blood and other bodily fluids.
The Tel Aviv researchers, led by nanotechnology scientist Shachar Richter, is building a transistor from the proteins found in milk, blood and mucus. Transistors amplify electrical signals and they're the basis of all modern electronics. Right now, they're usually made of silicon.
Richter's transistor uses milk proteins to form the fibrous scaffolding, because milk materials stay strong and stable in different environments. Blood proteins, which can absorb oxygen, allow the researchers to add different chemicals to adjust the properties of the semiconductor. Mucus proteins give the transistor sophisticated optical properties.
Though biological electronics may sound strange, many researchers are interested in using life's molecules in electrical circuits. Biological molecules can be much smaller than the smallest devices people commonly make today. They're flexible, unlike silicon, so they may be used in soft, flexible cellphones or other devices. They're also biodegradable, which makes them an eco-friendly alternative to the environmentally harmful materials that usually go into computers, as American Friends of Tel Aviv University reported. Other researchers hope biodegradable electronics can used in food packaging or implanted in people to deliver medicine for a short time, after which they would dissolve in the body.