Tel Aviv University (TAU) has found an unconventional source of building materials for transistors - organic materials, specifically those found in the human body. The newly created protein-based transistors could be the flexible and biodegradable nano-technology that scientists have been searching for.
Main constituents are milk, blood and mucus proteins, and a proper combination of these to a base material prompts a positive change. The molecules self-arrange into a semi-conducting film in a nano-particle size. For example, the state of blood protein film reaches four nanometers high and for the latest version, it is 18 nanometers.
TAU team is optimistic their research is moving towards display screens and other electronics which are touted as biodegradable. They plan to use the same method to develop an entire range of functional electronic devices. It will certainly be an improvement over traditional transistors for which there are many issues. The problem with silicon as a semiconductor is the way it is manufactured. Manufactures start with a sheet of silicon and carve it into the designated shape. The top-down approach to producing these transistors limits the capabilities of these transistors with regards to certain pertinent factors such as size and flexibility.
With the amalgamation of three different kinds of proteins, a complete circuit with electronic and optical properties is created. Each protein has a contributing role to play in the circuit. The inherent ability of blood protein to absorb oxygen prompts the doping of semi-conductor with specific chemicals to generate desired technological qualities.
Milk proteins, recognized for their tenacity in different environments, shape the fibers that form the building blocks of transistors. Finally, the mucosal proteins are responsible for diverging red, green and blue fluorescent dyes so together they can unleash the white light emissions necessary for advanced optics.
The team believes that their specially created protein transistors would work ideally for small, flexible devices made out of plastic. They imagine a variety of flexible technologies such as screens, tablets, cellphones and microprocessor chips could meet consumer demand for green products.