Together, the three different kinds of proteins create a complete circuit with electronic and optical capabilities, each bringing something unique to the table. Blood protein has the ability to absorb oxygen, Mentovich says, which permits the "doping" of semi-conductors with specific chemicals in order to create specific technological properties. Milk proteins, known for their strength in difficult environments, form the fibers which are the building blocks of the transistors, while the mucosal proteins have the ability to keep red, green and, blue fluorescent dyes separate, together creating the white light emission that is necessary for advanced optics.
Overall, the natural abilities of each protein give the researchers "unique control" over the resulting organic transistor, allowing adjustments for conductivity, memory storage, and fluorescence among other characteristics.
A new era of technology
Technology is now shifting from a silicon era to a carbon era, notes Mentovich, and this new type of transistor could play a big role. Transistors built from these proteins will be ideal for smaller, flexible devices that are made out of plastic rather than silicon, which exists in wafer form that would shatter like glass if bent. The breakthrough could lead to a new range of flexible technologies, such as screens, cell phones and tablets, biosensors, and microprocessor chips.
Just as significant, because the researchers are using natural proteins to build their transistor, the products they create will be biodegradable. It's a far more environmentally friendly technology that addresses the growing problem of
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University