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Biotech Hardware

Part-Human, Part-Machine Transistor Devised 77

Posted by kdawson
from the mitochondria-look-up dept.
asukasoryu writes "Man and machine can now be linked more intimately than ever, according to a new article in the journal ACS Nano Letters. Scientists have embedded a nano-sized transistor inside a cell-like membrane and powered it using the cell's own fuel. To create the implanted circuit, the UC scientists combined a carbon nanotube transistor, lipid bilayer coating, ion pump, and ATP. The ion pump changes the electrical charge inside the cell, which then changes the electrical charge going through the transistor, which the scientists could measure and monitor."
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Part-Human, Part-Machine Transistor Devised

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  • Everyone add the tag, Cylons to this one. :-D

  • Resistance is futile. [slashdot.org]

  • I can't help but think of the borg here but I will give them the fact that it is rather ingenues. Hopefully they can generate enough power to do something useful without starving the cell in the future.
    • I'm sure the people actually doing this are fully aware of any issues that could possibly be thought of by a random internet user reading a short overview of the project.

      • No, the average /. reader can pick up in 5 minutes problems in projects that are researched for years. Why else do we read the summeries? Wait till people around here will start to RTFA, then you will really see issues popping up!

  • How is this human? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dward90 (1813520) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:43AM (#32445478)
    So they put a transister inside a cell membrane. How exactly does that make it part human? Every living creature has cells that have phospholipid bilayers.
    • completely useless device that makes the user buy other useless devices starting with the letter "i"
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:49AM (#32445552) Journal

      So they put a transister inside a cell membrane. How exactly does that make it part human?

      It's powered by the cell, and not its own battery?

      Imagine having a wrist calculator that was more reliable than a solar calculator, but you have to eat a bit more.

    • by gilleain (1310105) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:52AM (#32445610)

      So they put a transister inside a cell membrane. How exactly does that make it part human? Every living creature has cells that have phospholipid bilayers.

      More generally, it is not true to say that a lipid bilayer is even 'biological' in any meaningful sense. Ok, so the ion pump that they used is biological, since it was probably extracted from a cell. There have been designed (artificial) ion pumps, however, which could be used instead.

      Perhaps this is too pedantic, but this is really bio-mimetics rather than bio-chemistry... Anyway, where is Dr Baltar and his detector when we need him? Fracking toasters everywhere!

    • by AustinSlacker (728596) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:54AM (#32445644)
      Obviously to sensationalize the article. How else to get people to read it? If they just said, “Biologically Powered Transistor Devised”, then people would be all ho hum about it. But if you invoke images of Terminator or Cylons, then people notice. As a matter of fact, nowhere in the article do any of the researchers say anything about this being human. They all refer to the cells in very generic terms. It could be any cells.
    • Would you have been as quick to click if the headline had read "phospholipid wrapped transistor powered by ATP"? Would scattering "nano" have helped?

    • by sjames (1099)

      Because we're not all that interested in giving frogs a built in AM/FM radio?

  • New weight loss (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DiademBedfordshire (1662223) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:53AM (#32445626)

    So will this be the next weight loss method? If I am powering electronics it must come from burning calories correct?

    • So will this be the next weight loss method? If I am powering electronics it must come from burning calories correct?

      This is the anti-social transistor. It's powered by burning bridges.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hell yes, next we need to mount an interface on my ass. I can plug this into the grid and sell power back to the electric company.

      No more watching what I eat. Instead I can eat what I want, as much as I want and enjoy every bite. Sports and other activities stop being a way to stay slim and become OPTIONAL.

    • Fat conversion to ATP through aerobic metabolism is generally slower than other forms of metabolism. It requires a steady supply of oxygen too, so your circulatory system will likely be overworked. Also, rapid breakdown of lipids in the body could lead to metabolic acidosis, decreasing the pH in your blood, and possibly leading to renal/kidney failure.

      So, I doubt fat loss via such a method would be very helpful, or safe.
    • by renoX (11677)

      >So will this be the next weight loss method? If I am powering electronics it must come from burning calories correct?

      Uh? What a stupid statement!
      They connected a transistor to *one* cell: you'd need to connect something to *many* cells before there would be any significant weightloss..

  • Future devices could work just the opposite, where an outside electrical current could power the pump and alter how quickly ions are pumped into or out of a cell.

    That has potentially far reaching effects assuming they can eventually find a way to install these things throughout the body (or even better just on targeted cells). You could install one of these devices on each cancer cell, for example, and power a pump that forced chemo drugs into the cells. That means that cancer cells would receive a much higher dose than non-cancer cells meaning less side effects and/or more effective treatments. Of course, there's a million problems to be solved before such a tre

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajrs (186276)

      Future devices could work just the opposite, where an outside electrical current could power the pump and alter how quickly ions are pumped into or out of a cell.

      That has potentially far reaching effects assuming they can eventually find a way to install these things throughout the body (or even better just on targeted cells). You could install one of these devices on each cancer cell, for example, and power a pump that forced chemo drugs into the cells. That means that cancer cells would receive a much higher dose than non-cancer cells meaning less side effects and/or more effective treatments. Of course, there's a million problems to be solved before such a treatment could become reality, but the possibilities are endless.

      If you could install one of these devices in a cancer cell, it wouldn't need to pump it full of medicine. Water or would work just fine. Pop!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vegiVamp (518171)
      If you can find a way to install things on targeted cells, you can just deliver the actual chemo to the cells without this as intermediary.
  • Man and machine can now be linked more intimately than ever

    Er, well this is Slashdot... but still: I'd rather not, thank-you very much.

  • "Man and machine can now be linked more intimately than ever" Interesting choice of words, have they never seen the picture that floated around the internet of the man in lingerie, um, "loving" his car's exhaust pipe?
  • I wonder what kinds of numbers something like this could push. Tolerances? Forward / Reverse Bias, Beta values, Depletion region sizes, Breakdown voltages etc...Does anybody have a white-paper link or know if the data is published anywhere public? I am just curious as to how they go about verifying this constructs functionality as a transistor, be it giant simulators, or actual experimental observations.

    In the future we will have multimeters / scopes that probe the body's..erm..wait...nvm.
  • by abbynormal brain (1637419) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:17PM (#32446004)

    Overlord1: These brutish simple beings have finally yielded some light at the end of the tunnel.
    Overlord2: Yes, but it will still be a few centuries to perfect, sell, and drive adoption before we can flip the switch and merge them into Overmind.
    Overlord1: Ok - when can I see the Microsoft Project Plan?

  • by seyyah (986027)

    OH Senate Passes Bill Banning Human-Anima... [slashdot.org] ah wait, this one's still legal in Ohio. Never mind.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:00PM (#32446866)

    According to the actual article, there was no cell involved, only proteins resembling a cell wall. Nor was anything human mentioned.

    In short, the article describes how they rapped a protein layer around the nano-transistor and it worked. Then it speculated on what it might be able to do in the future.

    While powering a single transistor from the cell is interesting, a single transistor can only be on or off. Since, based on the data supplied in the article, there isn't a mechanism to trigger the on/off state, then it seems to be limited use.

    Of more interest is the mention of the research done at the Hebrew University where they accomplished the same thing but by using enzymes that the cell ignored. The reason this is more interesting is that enzymes may be able to be tailored to work with specific cell functions, versus just being powered by the the cell.

  • Only a matter of time before we all have our own pc cpu installed inside ourselves and can interface and do a lot of work with our computers and the internet....need to check something up on google, use you interfaced keyboard that sends signals to your cpu, that is powered by your own thermal energy, then use your pc to hook up with the internet using a 3g chip implanted at the base of your neck, this will allow you to look up on google for all the p0rn you might need, and then send the signal back to your

    • by Muse011 (1826134)
      What should be more concerning is when Korea gets their hands on this kind of technology enabling them to control their military like Starcraft units.
  • The paper appeared in the journal Nano Letters, not to be confused with ACS Nano (although both journals belong to the American Chemical Society). Link: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl100499x [acs.org]
  • First they try to ban the teaching of evolution and now they want to ban actual intelligent design? MAKE UP YOUR MINDS ALREADY!

    • by Riskable (19437)

      Doh! Wrong thread.

      It is 7 in the morning and I'm working on two laptops side-by-side. Each with copious amounts of tabs open. Probably not a good idea... Adding to my TODON'T list.

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