Entries with tag bioengineering.

Engineers: Proteins Could Be Used in Circuits

Researchers have identified the electrical properties of proteins that could enable the substances to be used for switching, indicating they could be used in circuits or electronic devices. The scientists in the University of Salento’s Department of Engineering for Innovation were studying these properties, an emerging discipline which they call proteotronics, in the protein known as OR-17, a receptor protein in rats. Previous research had determined proteins could be used as switches, so they created a model to describe the protein’s characteristics that enabled them to identify various properties computationally. With the ability to accurately model and predict OR-17’s electronic behavior, including its impedance, the engineers say, they could use it as a component in various devices. Being able to reliably model the behavior of the protein means it can be used as a reliable component in systems such as a circuit, they say. They published their work—“Proteotronics: Electronic Devices Based On Proteins”—online at arXiv. (SlashDot)(The Physics arXiv Blog)(“Proteotronics: Electronic Devices Based On Proteins”)

Researchers Trigger Synthetic Cells to Create Semiconductor Materials

US scientists are using genetic engineering to create silica-forming proteins that generate solid-state materials for use in semiconductors and other electronic components. Traditional methods for triggering marine sponges to produce these proteins can actually kill the cells. The researchers thus used synthetic cells with a tiny plastic-bead nucleus, surrounded by a bubble of oil that mimics a cell membrane. They attached a piece of DNA encoded with a silica-forming protein to each bead, then added other substances to create the artificial cell. This triggered the proteins to make either silicon dioxide or titanium dioxide, both of which made dispersed nanoparticles containing these metal oxides. The researchers, led by University of California at Santa Barbara professor Emeritus Daniel E. Morse, say their protein, named silicatein X1, could make folded sheets of silica-protein fibers. They published their work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Ars Technica)(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

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