August 19, 2003 – Scientists at Tel Aviv University are bridging gaps between biology and nanotechnology with their efforts to make metal nanowires from bio-organic material.
The research centers on beta-amyloid protein fibrils, which are present in the brains of Alzheimers’ patients and are known to cause type 2 diabetes and prion diseases. Scientists observing the proteins under an electron microscope realized they could use them to create nanotubes, which were then bathed in a silver ion solution and reduced to elemental silver. The resulting self-assembling nanotubes could then be used as molds for making nanowires.
Professor Ehud Gazit and research assistant Meital Reches, who published their work in a recent issue of Science, plan to expand their work to peptide nanotubes for molding other conducting, semiconducting, and magnetic materials, with a final potential application in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).