Scientists: Human Proteins to Power Tech Gadgets

Dennis Faas's picture

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have successfully created man-made, biodegradable transistors derived from proteins found in a mixture of blood, milk and mucus.

Mixed together, the concoction is able to self-assemble into a semi-conducting film. This could revolutionize the tech industry by helping manufacturers produce devices that are both more flexible and biodegradable.

According to the science behind the substances, the different proteins contain unique properties that combine to make a better transistor.

The oxygen storing ability of blood, for example, helps mix chemicals with semi-conductors to give them specific properties, while milk and mucus have fiber-forming and light-creating properties, respectively. (Source:

New Semi-Conducting Film Thinner, More Flexible

In the past, silicon has been used as a semiconductor catalyst. However, one of the problems associated with using silicon is that the process requires a "top down approach".

Manufacturers start with a sheet of silicon and manipulate it into the shape they need (similar to carving a sculpture out of rock). For transistor manufacturers, the size and flexibility of the silicon sheet are strictly limited.

But the combination of blood, milk and mucus proteins added to any base material allow the molecules within to self-assemble and create a semi-conducting film on a nano scale.

Among the advantages of the new approach, current semi-conducting films measure an average of about 18 nanometers in height, but the protein mixture can do the same job at a miniscule 4 nanometers in height.

In a recent statement, researcher Elad Mentovich suggested technology is shifting from the silicon era to carbon. As a result, transistors built from blood, milk and mucus proteins could lead to the creation of smaller, flexible devices.

Protein Breakthrough Could Revolutionize Tech Industry

One major advantage of the new material over silicon is that silicon (which exists in wafer form) shatters like glass, when bent. But this new protein material has a remarkable ability to bend without breaking.

This inherent ability to change shape could lead to all sorts of flexible technologies in display screens, cell phones, tablet computers, and more. (Source:

In addition, the researchers are also working on a biodegradable display, which could help limit the flow of tech-based waste now filling up landfills worldwide.

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