Devices like light bulbs, telephones and computers send information using electrons. Human bodies and all other living things, on the other hand, send signals and perform work using ions or protons. Now scientists have built a novel transistor that uses protons, creating a key piece for devices that can communicate directly with living things.
“So there’s always this issue, a challenge, at the interface – how does an electronic signal translate into an ionic signal, or vice versa?” “We found a biomaterial that is very good at conducting protons, and allows the potential to interface with living systems.” “In our device large bioinspired molecules can move protons, and a proton current can be switched on and off, in a way that’s completely analogous to an electronic current in any other field effect transistor,”
The device uses a modified form of the compound chitosan originally extracted from squid pen, a structure that survives from when squids had shells. The material is compatible with living things, is easily manufactured, and can be recycled from crab shells and squid pen discarded by the food industry.
On the left is a colored photo of the device overlaid on a graphic of the other components. On the right is a magnified image of the chitosan fibers. The white scale bar is 200 nanometers.
University of Washington
Wetenschappelijke publicatie (abstract):
Chao Zhong, et al.: A polysaccharide bioprotonic field-effect transistor
Proton-based transistor could let machines communicate with living things
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