Tricking Cells Into Making Silicon Chips

A research team at CalTech in San Diego has mutated bacterial DNA, producing an enzyme which can bind carbon with silicon - the very stuff of microprocessors.


(Caltech scientists coax cells into silicon bonds)

‘We decided to get nature to do what only chemists could do, only better,’ said Frances Arnold, a researcher at CalTech and principal investigator on the study.

The team isolated a protein found in a bacterium which bathes in the hot springs of Iceland.

Called cytochrome c, it is used by cells to share out electrons, but at low levels it was also seen to combine silicon and carbon.

By tweaking the bacterium’s genetic instructions for the protein, they were able to target an iron-containing region of the protein responsible for the silicon-carbon bonds.

The resulting protein is an enzyme able to make bonds 15 times more efficiently than the best artificial catalyst produced by chemists. The same method has been used to produce enzymes for detergents and other common products.

The team explains that the silicon enzyme could find a number of industrial applications and would avoid the use of precious metals and toxic solvents used in synthetic methods.

By introducing the DNA for the enzyme to E.coli, they could have biofactories knitting together silicon and carbon for industrial compounds.

Fans of the Marvel Iron Man comic from the 1980's may recall that the suit-tiles were created by a process of biological circuit fabrication:

Micro-Scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically engineered metal affinity bacteria which assemble themselves in specific orderly arrays, then expire, leaving behind various metallic deposits which form all the metal shapes and microscopic circuits.

Via Daily Mail.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/11/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.' - Robert Heinlein, 1966.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...'

Liquid Metal Shape-Changing 'Soft Robotics'
'A mimetic poly-alloy... 'What the hell does that mean?''

The Hammock Caravan And Italo Calvino's Octavia
'Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made.'

Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
View the magnified interior of living cells.

Have I Seen The Tesla Roadster Story Before?
'Only it wasn't a vessel. It was an automobile...'

Watch 'Do You Trust This Computer' For Free Today
Thanks for making this available, Elon.

Self-Driving Car Ticketed
This just missed making my day.

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.'

Burner Generates Temporary Phone Numbers
'Interesting phone system he's got, by the way...'

Walmart’s Autonomous Robot Bees
Everyone loves bees.

EA Created AI That Taught Itself To Play Battlefield
Harmless fun for computer scientists.

Is Teleportation A Death Sentence?
'A long trail of dead, he thought, left across the stars...'

New Brain Scanner Lets You Move Around
'In Bob Arctor's living room his thousand dollar custom-quality cephscope crafted by Altec...'

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.'

Physicists Try To Turn Light Into Matter
If E=mc squared, then... m=E/c squared!

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.