A team of Israeli researchers says it has come up with a way of making transistors out of a mix of human blood, milk and mucus proteins.
The ultimate goal is to create flexible, biodegradable screens and other types of electronics. The Tel Aviv University (TAU) team said on Wednesday that it had successfully built a screen using the technique and was aiming to build an entire electronic device in a similar way.
Transistors usually get carved out of silicon, which is much less useful at nano-scale than it is at the larger scale currently used in electronics manufacturing. According to TAU, when the team applied various combinations of blood, milk and mucus proteins to "any base material", the resulting self-assembling nano-scale film could be as thin as 4nm, in the case of the blood protein.
"Together, the three different kinds of proteins create a complete circuit with electronic and optical capabilities, each bringing something unique to the table," TAU said.
"Blood protein has the ability to absorb oxygen… 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 fibres 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," TAU explained.
The result is that the researchers have been able to control their organic transistors by adjusting their use of the materials.
The team reckons its technique can be used to make small, biodegradable and flexible devices such as screens, tablets and phones, biosensors and microprocessors. The TAU researchers' work has been published in the Nano Letters and Advanced Materials journals.