Genetic engineering has been applied to numerous things, most commonly to the world of food. However, since technology isn’t usually made of genetic material the world of computer chips has generally been outside the realm of such genetic engineering. But such thinking may be on the way out. News from the world of science says electronics can be created from genetically engineered proteins. Noting, that the genetic approach already creates complex “circuitry” of a sort, such as in skeletal structures and seashells, scientists reason that the same method can be harnessed to produce silicon chips.
The process of genetic engineering involves introducing a foreign gene into some bacteria. When the bacteria multiply, they also multiply the foreign gene. Based on this thinking, scientists at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California created artificial cells and manipulated them to make silica proteins. With careful attention and manipulation, they found a method of producing sheets of silica protein fibers. All of which could eventually become a biological process for silicon chips. It isn’t clear if this means that human workers will now be replaced by bacteria that make computer chips, that will inhabit the computers that replace other humans in the workforce.
By now genetic engineering has already been used in technology. A genetically modified virus was used to make an environmentally friendly lithium-ion battery. Black and white photographs were also created this way. Bacteria have already built magnetic nano-particles, while some sponges can create fiberglass. Meanwhile, some time ago, genetically modified canola plants “escaped” into the wild where they became known as “feral canola.” It will be interesting when we have feral computer chips.
- Artificial cells evolve proteins to structure semiconductors(arstechnica.com)