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­a Engineers Win Patent For Protein-Based Electronic Circuits

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Pierre Deymier

University of Arizona professor Pierre Deymier

Courtesy of University of Arizona

University of Arizona researchers recently patented a process for building microscopic wiring circuits made of copper insulated by proteins known as microtubules (MTs). The researchers' major breakthrough is the ability to deposit copper inside the nonconducting MTs to create tiny insulated wires, says Arizona professor Pierre Deymier.

An amino acid called histidine forms inside the tubules, and the metallization process starts there. By properly timing the copper salt cycle, copper forms only inside the MTs, resulting in tiny insulated wires. MT-based nanowires are naturally insulated, allowing wires to be run across one another, a technique that is impossible with conventional circuits. The researchers say MT-based nanowires could be used to extract current from solar cells that mimic photosynthesis.

Deymier says MTs could help overcome the size limits of traditional semiconductor manufacturing technologies because its bottom up design process provides the processes and control needed to form structures from atoms and molecules.

From University of Arizona
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