We've all heard the phrase that people have put blood, sweat, and tears into their work, but now researchers from Tel Aviv University have taken it rather more literally. Using protein gathered from blood, breast milk, and mucus the team has created flexible and biodegradable transistors that are totally silicon-free. So far they've been able to take the first step towards creating transistors for displays, but they hope to be able to produce entire electronic devices.
The semiconductors are built by applying the bodily fluids to a base coating, which dries to create a semiconducting film a few nanometers high. By blending the three fluids in different proportions, the team has been able to build this layer up to 18nm high. The three proteins were chosen for specific reasons: blood protein can absorb oxygen, allowing it to be manipulated with other chemicals for different technological properties; milk forms fibers which build the structure of the transistor; and mucus can keep red, blue, and green fluorescent dyes separate, which together creates the white light necessary for optical work.
Because of their organic sources, electronics made from the proteins are also biodegradable, meaning that the current issue of how to responsibly dispose of electronics will become far more easily solved. However, the transistors are a long way from production, and still face the issue of persuading the public that human-sourced electronics are a good idea.