A team of researchers from Israel claims to come up with a way of making transistors out of a mix of human blood, milk and mucus proteins.. Technology is now shifting from a silicon era to a carbon era, notes Mentovich, and this new type of transistor could play a big role. Transistors built from these proteins will be ideal for smaller, flexible devices that are made out of plastic rather than silicon, which exists in wafer form that would shatter like glass if bent. The breakthrough could lead to a new range of flexible technologies, such as screens, cell phones and tablets, biosensors, and microprocessor chips.

Just as significant, because the researchers are using natural proteins to build their transistor, the products they create will be biodegradable. It’s a far more environmentally friendly technology that addresses the growing problem of electronic waste, which is overflowing landfills worldwide. The ultimate goal is to create flexible, biodegradable screens and other types of electronics. The Tel Aviv University (TAU) team said that it had successfully built a screen using the technique and was aiming to build an entire electronic device in a similar way.

As explained by the TAU team, transistors usually get carved out of silicon, which is much less useful at nano-scale than it is at the larger scale currently used in electronics manufacturing. When the team applied various combinations of blood, milk and mucus proteins to “any base material”, the resulting self-assembling nano-scale film could be as thin as 4nm, in the case of the blood protein. Blood protein has the ability to absorb oxygen, which permits the doping of semi-conductors with specific chemicals in order to create specific technological properties. Milk proteins, known for their strength in difficult environments, form the fibres which are the building blocks of the transistors, while the mucosal proteins have the ability to keep red, green and, blue fluorescent dyes separate, together creating the white light emission that is necessary for advanced optics,”. The result is that the researchers have been able to control their organic transistors by adjusting their use of the materials.