Will living proteins revolutionize computing?
May 28, 2010 // R. Colin Johnson, EE Times.com
A living protein found in every cell of the human body — clathrin — could become a self-assembler of future information processing systems that are smaller, faster and cheaper than the inorganic computer circuitry we use today, according to ExQor Technologies, a Boston-based life sciences firm.
The material, which ExQor has already demonstrated can be formed into
nano-sized bio-lasers suitable for transmitting information, will first
be used in medical applications. But its developers say the high
precision of its self-assembly process — and ultra-small size — could
enhance solar cells, batteries and energy management systems with
nanoscale electronic and photonic properties not possible for silicon
and other inorganic approaches.
"Our multi-patented clathrin nanoparticle is an intelligent
platform that can be functionalized with additional elements, such as
drug cargo and ligands for medical applications," said Franco
Vitaliano, ExQor's founder. "But our clathrin scaffolding applications
are also dual use, with commercial applications in VLSI lithography,
biomolecular electronics and in self-assembling novel photonic
nano-structures for alternative energy generation."
Clathrin is a protein that exists in the cells of most living
things as a gate-keeper and signaling system — sorting and transporting
chemicals by folding around them as they are allowed to enter the cell.
Individual clathrin subunits, called triskelion, are shaped like a
tripod with three spindly legs.
Clathrin — a star-shaped molecule — self-assembles into nanoscale spheres that lase
In solution, ExQor's synthetic version self-assembles a number of
triskelia into 20-to-100 nanometer diameter cages containing cargo. By
functionalizing the triskelia with antibodies or other agents that
identify pathogenic conditions, such as cancer or tissue damage,
clathrin cages can carry drugs to specific cells, then pass inside to
deliver them. Since clathrin is a natural gatekeeper in the body, it
can readily access cells anywhere in the body — even safely entering the
brain, which normally prevents large molecule drug-cargos from
While researching clathrin for medical applications, ExQor discovered
that the material exhibits quantum properties useful for biocomputing
applicaitons, including nanoscale lasing.
"When we were first developing the clathrin asymmetric resonant cavity,
or ARC, we could not find any other research into lasing at scales as
small as ours — below 100 nanometers," said Vitaliano. "I think most
scientists at the time believed that structures at that scale could not
support lasing, but now we know it can, using cavity quantum
ExQor's first application of the nano-lasing property will be
energy industry treatments using self-generated light that prevents the
buildup and creation of industrial biofilm by killing culprit
organisms. But next on ExQor's list of applications is nanoscale
photonics. The researchers also claim that other quantum computing
phenomena, for which it has been granted U.S. patents, will enable
novel spin-based self-assembling nano-electronic devices that exceed
even the most optimistic performance characteristics currently being
planned for nanoscale devices using traditional inorganic materials.
"Our aspiration is to enable bio-based quantum computing at the
nanoscale by using the same completely reversible processes that keep
heat to a minimum in living things, unlike electronic devices today
that use irreversible processes which generate too much heat when
scaled down," said Vitaliano.
In addition, the researchers are looking to intermolecular
multiple quantum coherence and intermolecular zero quantum coherence,
methods that are used today to enhance the contrast of conventional
magnetic resonance imaging and as signposts for initiating and
controlling quantum effects in the body. All news
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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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