Successful construction of new bio-nanoelectronic transistors

Release date: 2010-05-19

- Prosthetic limbs are expected to be directly "connected" to the human nervous system

According to a report by the American Physicist Network on May 13, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory built a bio-nanoelectronic hybrid transistor that can be driven and controlled by adenosine triphosphate (ATP). They say that the new transistor is the first integrated bioelectronic system that will provide an important way to integrate electronic restoration equipment such as prostheses with the human body. Related research was published in the recently published Nano Express.

Adenosine triphosphate can be used as a "molecular currency" for intracellular energy transfer, storing and transferring chemical energy, providing the energy needed for human metabolism; it also plays an important role in nucleic acid synthesis.

The laboratory's researcher, Alexander Noy, said that ion pump proteins are the core of the new transistor devices. The transistor developed this time consists of carbon nanotubes between two electrodes and functions as a semiconductor. The end of the nanotube is coated with an insulating polymer coating, and the entire system is wrapped in a two-layer grease film, similar to the principle of a living cell membrane. When a scientist applies a voltage across the electrode, a solution containing adenosine triphosphate, potassium ions, and sodium ions pours out over the surface of the transistor device and initiates the flow of current between the electrodes. The more adenosine triphosphate used, the stronger the current produced.

Scientists have explained that the reason for this effect is that the proteins in the double-layered lipid film behave like "ion pumps" when exposed to adenosine triphosphate. In each cycle, the protein will pump three sodium ions in one direction and pump two potassium ions in the opposite direction, causing one charge to pass through the double grease film and into the nanotube under the action of the "ion pump". As the ions accumulate, they will generate an electric field around the middle of the nanotubes, thereby increasing the conductivity of the nanotransistors.

According to Itma Werner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this bio-electronic system converts the nano-level mechanical energy into electrical energy through ion motion, thus supporting the operation of the transistor. In this case, the transistor can be used to fabricate an electronic device that is driven and controlled by a biosignal. For example, this advancement enables electronic instruments to remain in the body without the need for batteries or other external power supplies, and prosthetic devices such as prostheses are expected to be "wired" directly to the human nervous system. Noy hopes that this technology will be used in the future to build a seamless bio-electronic interface to achieve better communication between organisms and machines.

(Source: Kexun)

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