Genetic engineering for synthetic semiconductors
June 11, 2012 // Sylvie Barak
Genetic engineering could hold the key to artificially creating semiconductors in a lab. According to technology news site Ars Technica, a team of academics at the University of California, Santa Barbara is looking at ways to create synthetic proteins that could form new structures of silicon dioxide to make computer chips with.
These chips would then be used in all kinds of electronics. The proteins could also form titanium dioxide, used in solar cells.
The process is a bit different from regular genetic engineering because it uses synthetic cells made of the randomly combined genes of two related silicateins replete with random mutations, surrounded by a nucleus of minute plastic beads.
The artificial cells are put through the proverbial wringer, killing many along the way. Those that survive the process have their genes cherry picked by the scientists from either the silicon or titanium dioxide-forming proteins.
The results were somewhat surprising, with researchers finding not just the original silicateins used to form the artificial cell in the first place, but also another, different gene.
Tests on the new gene found it contained a silica-forming protein which has been dubbed silicatein X1, which may prove useful in the making of folded sheets of silica-protein fibers.
Silica skeletons of radiolaria in false color.
While that may sound strange and complicated, it’s worth noting that even in nature, creatures like marine sponges can produce materials like fiberglass, while ARS notes that some bacteria can even build magnetic nanoparticles.
Now that scientists know it’s possible to create entirely different silica proteins, the next step will be to change the conditions in order to achieve things like semiconductor performance.
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Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturer Ciseco has launched the Raspberry Pi ‘Wireless Inventors Kit’ (RasWIK), featuring 88 pieces to provide everything a Pi owner needs to follow a series of step-by-step projects or to create their own wireless devices, without the need for configuration or even writing code.
RasWIK has been designed to be highly accessible, demystifying the dark art of wireless and enabling anyone with basic computing skills to begin building wireless devices with a Raspberry Pi. You can create anything from a simple traffic light, to a battery monitor, or even a temperature gauge that sends data to the Xively IoT cloud so billions can access the data.This month, Ciseco is giving away twelve Raspberry Pi Wireless Inventors kits, worth £49.99 each for EETimes Europe's readers to win.
And the winners are...
In our previous reader offer, Farsens was giving away five kits for EEtimes Europe readers to evaluate its FenixVortex, Kineo and X1 wireless, battery free sensor tags.
Lucky winners include Mr A. Neil from the UK, Mr. E. Delvaux from Belgium, Mr Lengal from the Czech Republic, Mr H. Bijlsma from the Netherlands, and Mr G. Pfaff from Germany. All should be receiving their packages soon. Lets wish them some interesting findings with their projects.
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