Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Proton transistor will talk to living things

Nerves talk to each other with protons.  Medical devices talk to each other with electrons.  A newly invented proton transistor will let devices listen to and talk to nerves in their own language.

Your nerves communicate by sending positively charged ions across the synapses.  These ions have been stripped of an electron and have an exposed proton left behind.   Our medical information devices communicate by circulating information in the form of negatively charged electron currents.  Researchers have invented a proton transistor that moves positive charges to perform a calculation.  This has the potential to bridge directly the interface between the information we manage and the information living processes manage.  The nerves talk in protons and may report directly to us if we have proton computing devices.  They may also let us talk to them directly and supply instructions.

Chitosan is recovered from squid "pen" and crab shells. It absorbs water and forms many hydrogen bonds; protons are then able to hop from one hydrogen bond to the next.  In the body, protons operate "on-off" switches and play a key role in energy transfer.

On the right is a colored photo of the University of Washington device overlaid on a graphic of the other components. On the right is a magnified image of the chitosan fibers. The white scale bar is 200 nanometers.

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