Nanotechnologists have written about the eventual merging of the “wet path,” meaning biological technologies, and the “dry path,” meaning very small machines and machine parts. Several recent discoveries with possibly profound impacts on the future of computers, both involving useful bacteria, would indicate that this merging is coming more quickly than many believed.
Researchers from State University of New York (SUNY) have found a way to turn a bug into a feature in their search to rid chip manufacturing plants from “super bacteria” that survive on chips by prompting the top semiconductor layer to grow over and protect them. One researcher says, “A plant is basically a single-electron photonic device converting light into electricity. If we embed a photosensitive bacteria inside a chip, we have the beginnings of a biotransistor.”
Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison have discovered, in an abandoned and flooded lead and zinc mine, a gooey orange deposit formed by bacteria that consists of tiny nanocrystals of iron assembled into slabs. The discovery, if it can be replicated, may bring a new era in storage devices as well as artificial optical and electrical materials.