A recent breakthrough allowing scientists to combine organic matter with semiconductors in a process similar to photosynthesis seems to be bringing the invention of cybernetic organisms one step closer to a reality. From University of Michigan:
The bionic particles blend the strengths of inorganic materials, which can readily convert light energy to electron energy, with biological molecules whose chemical functions have been highly developed through evolution.
The team first designed the particles to combine cadmium telluride, a semiconductor commonly used in solar cells, with cytochrome C, a protein used by plants to transport electrons in photosynthesis. With this combination, the semiconductor can turn a ray from the sun into an electron, and the cytochrome C can pull that electron away for use in chemical reactions that could clean up pollution or produce fuel, for instance.
To drive reactions, the molecules of cytochrome C and nanoparticles of cadmium telluride must exchange electrons. This process would be most efficient if the components were connected, so the team designed a process that would allow them to self-assemble into superparticles.
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