3 May 2002 Non-infectious viruses may soon be used to help make semiconductors and other computing devices. Researchers at the University of Texas have devised a way to use non-infectious viruses, combined with man-made materials, to create a hybrid material that could be used in the production of electronic, magnetic and optical devices.
The researchers have published an article on their nanotechnology research in the journal Science. Their work involves getting naturally occurring molecules to adhere to particles of a man-made material, known as “quantum dots”, which are used in the production of semiconductors. The combined particles then went on to build whole new structures.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of atoms and molecules to create new substances. The US government believes that this technology could create a market of goods and services valued at more than $1 trillion (€1.1 trillion) by 2015 and intends to invest more than $600 million (€662.1 million) in related research in this year alone.
According to Angela Belcher, the project’s lead researcher and an assistant professor of chemistry and microchemistry at the University of Texas, the project’s aim was to mimic the way nature creates things such as bones or shells.
She says the process used by the group may one day be used to create and arrange parts for a range of devices. She and most of her research team at the University of Texas will move to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Cambridge this autumn.