Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have devised a hybrid platform using lipid-coated nanowires to build prototype bionanoelectronic devices.
The researchers incorporated lipid bilayer membranes into silicon nanowire transistors by covering the nanowire with a continuous lipid bilayer shell that forms a barrier between the nanowire surface and solution species.
Aleksandr Noy, the LLNL lead scientist on the project, explained: "This shielded wire configuration allows us to use membrane pores as the only pathway for the ions to reach the nanowire.
"This is how we can use the nanowire device to monitor specific transport and also to control the membrane protein."
It is believed that mingling biological components with electronic circuits could enhance biosensing and diagnostic tools, as well as advancing neural prosthetics and increasing the efficiency of computers.
Engineers and scientists at LLNL recently received eight awards among the top 100 industrial innovations worldwide in 2008.