Have you heard about Sulfulobus lately? Maybe not, and you might even not know what they are: "extremophile" microbes living in the sulfurous springs of Yellowstone National Park.
It seems that a team from NASA used modified proteins from these single-celled organisms taken from near-boiling acidic muck to grow mesh-like structures.
Glennda Chui details the whole story.
Sulfulobus is one tough bug. Part of an ancient branch of one-celled life called the Archaea, it thrives in near-boiling springs of sulfuric acid in places like Yellowstone National Park.
The same chemistry that keeps the microbe alive may also be the key to making perfect arrays of tiny particles, one of the goals of the emerging discipline of nanotechnology.
What's more, such arrays would spontaneously assemble themselves, prompted only by the laws of physics -- overcoming what is known as the "fat fingers" problem, which asserts that it's hard to find tools small enough to make very tiny things.
Scientists figure that if they can get devices to put themselves together, as living systems do, then building an ultra-small computer chip would be as simple and as cheap as brewing beer.
I suppose we'll have to wait for a while before a real product comes from this research project.
Source: Glennda Chui, San Jose Mercury News, November 26, 2002
7:01:41 PM Permalink