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Silk Protein Photonics

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the need-more-spiders dept.

Technology 26

Researchers in the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University have used a straightforward, water based extraction method to make pure, ultra-transparent silk films. These films can be patterned with photonic devices, like diffraction gratings and infused with proteins and enzymes allowing biochemically active, cheap, printable optics to be fabricated. Applications to implantable optical sensors are almost limitless. (Disclaimer: I am part of this research group.)

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Applications (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 6 years ago | (#24516171)

After reading the article, I come to the conclusion that this would be perfect for edible underwear.

Research team -- look into this.

Re:Applications (1)

witte (681163) | about 6 years ago | (#24516263)

Also, since this is Tufts University, can it be used to log MAC and IP addresses ?
</cheap shot>

Re:Applications (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 6 years ago | (#24516281)

Wow. I read the article and still had time for first post. If this were Saturday, I would think everyone else was getting ready for a hot date.

Re:Applications (4, Funny)

UID30 (176734) | about 6 years ago | (#24516317)

...getting ready for a hot date.

You know this is slashdot, don't you?

Re:Applications (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | about 6 years ago | (#24517937)

Yeah, yeah, we know. But there's lots of ways to <a href="http://images.google.com/images?q=microwave">heat up</a> a <a href="http://images.google.com/images?q=date+fruit">date</a>...even for nerds.

Re:Applications (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | about 6 years ago | (#24518041)

Yeah, yeah, we know. But there's lots of ways to heat up [google.com] a date [google.com] ...even for nerds.

Re:Applications (1)

knarfling (735361) | about 6 years ago | (#24516919)

That is because the article and the summary are hard to match up. The summary talks about low cost, printable optics on silk, but does not give much detail of some of the applications. So I went to the article to get a better idea, and read about "edible optics."

At first glance they seem to be talking about two different things. I do not know about you, but I am not in the habit of eating silk on a regular basis. And silk with sensors on it? How would I get the info from the sensors after eating it? If it is implantable, does part of it stick out so I can see the results? Or is there some sort of tricorder that can read the info from the sensors inside me?

After reading a bit more, it seems like they could be talking about the same thing, but the sample applications still do not fit the summary.

My only conclusion is that the concept is way over my head, not to mention the applications. Time to turn in the geek card.

Re:Applications (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | about 6 years ago | (#24517893)

Research team -- look into this.

slashdot research team ASSEMBLE!

this is going to make me laugh all day.

first silky poop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24516191)

first silky poop

Translation Available? (3, Funny)

UID30 (176734) | about 6 years ago | (#24516293)

Is there a nerd-to-geek translation available for this article? How many Wattabytes can that protien infused diffusion grate optical sensor hold? ... and more importantly, does it run Linux? ... beowulf cluster?

Re:Translation Available? (1)

Zosden (1303873) | about 6 years ago | (#24516549)

You forgot about in soviet Russia Linux runs silk proteins.

Re:Translation Available? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24516749)

Is there a nerd-to-geek translation available for this article? How many Wattabytes can that protien infused diffusion grate optical sensor hold? ... and more importantly, does it run Linux? ... beowulf cluster?

Wrong Wrong Wrong!!! It's the WEB 3.0!!!!

Re:Translation Available? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24524123)

Years ago I read about how polar-bear hair qualified as optical fibers. Looks like other proteins can do it, too.

Biochemical breakdown (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#24516553)

So if it is edible, where in my system do these break down? Am I to expect my digestive bacteria to be holding psychedelic rave parties in my intestines?

Re:Biochemical breakdown (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 6 years ago | (#24517111)

>Am I to expect my digestive bacteria to be holding psychedelic rave parties in my intestines?

Yes, they already are. Now with the correct wireless interface to the optical sensors, you can have live, streaming video of the interior of your GI tract on your website. Follow the exciting path of Thursday's Tequila shooters and tacos with extra Habanero salsa.

Re:Biochemical breakdown (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 6 years ago | (#24517149)

think there's a site that shows the interface to your GI tract...don't want to mention the name, its been posted here before.

Re:Biochemical breakdown (1)

mikiN (75494) | about 6 years ago | (#24517345)

Am I to expect my digestive bacteria to be holding psychedelic rave parties in my intestines?

ROTFLMAO!

Queue video of grooving intestinal bacteria getting their stomp on. "Wow, this tastes like Infected Mushroom, yummy!" "Nice visuals by the way, must be the Growling Mad Scientists of Tufts University."

Enzyme Stabilization (4, Interesting)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 6 years ago | (#24517411)

I was interested in the stabilization effect this has on the enzymes doped onto the silk substrate. According to TFA, they wind up with a room-temperature self life of a year or so compared to hours otherwise. This could make all kinds of tests and indicators way cheaper. how about E. coli sensitive wrappers for meat products?

FTA (3, Insightful)

dk90406 (797452) | about 6 years ago | (#24517523)

I RTFA, and was a little surprised. Obviously this was a press release (and shown as such), but my thoughts were:
  • They have discovered something important, but failed to communicate it properly
  • They may have something - but it is highly speculative
  • If they have something - why chose chose such a bad as bad food? No explanation is presented. Power Source? Needed at all? Processor? etc..
  • There might some more interesting applications for this stuff, think of translucent cloth.

I saw you guys are all making fun, but story shows how academia struggles to communicate to the public.
Unfurtunatly /. is not the typical public.

Re:FTA (1)

Entropy98 (1340659) | about 6 years ago | (#24521703)

Well what is it then?
--
Project Powder Wiki [projectpowderpro.com]

Re:FTA (1)

UID30 (176734) | about 6 years ago | (#24523587)

Unfurtunatly /. is not the typical public.

*boggle*
s/Unfurtunatly/Fortunately/

Re:FTA (1)

Americano (920576) | about 6 years ago | (#24531103)

They have discovered something important, but failed to communicate it properly.

How have they failed to communicate it properly? They were able to embed biologically active molecules in optics made of silk protein. They found that the silk protein is able to be processed using water (rather than harsh chemicals) at room temperature (rather than at very high or low temperatures). What this means is, the conditions required for production of these silk optics will not destroy the biologically active molecules that have been embedded into the structure. Something that, as outlined in the article, has been difficult to do with other devices which require far more chemical processing.

If they have something - why chose chose such a bad as bad food? No explanation is presented. Power Source? Needed at all? Processor? etc.

They chose "bad food," I would guess probably as a very clear way of highlighting the possible benefits of this research to the general public here in the US, who has been subjected to stories of "don't eat those tomatoes! no it's the peppers! no it's the tomatoes! no it's the peppers!" for about 2 months now due to an outbreak of foodborne illness that proved exceedingly difficult to track to its source. Wouldn't it be nice, they're saying, if a device in your bag of tomatoes could warn you that there was some sort of contamination before you eat them?

There might some more interesting applications for this stuff, think of translucent cloth.

Yes, because when I read about a novel method for creating silk films that could incorporate biologically active elements, the first thing I think is, "Man think of what the strippers could do with this!"

License the tech to Victoria's Secret. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | about 6 years ago | (#24518631)

"Ultra-transparent silk films"? It's a natural. I don't see what all this nerdy science stuff has to do with see-through panties, though.

Spinach! bah (2, Interesting)

StormShaman (603879) | about 6 years ago | (#24520537)

Spinach! Sure, the most recent E. Coli scare was with spinach, but I'd like to see this on fish, so I could know what fish to buy for sashimi.

transparent silk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24525663)

I call BS. The emperor has no clothes... ;^)

The need for geek speed (caffiene) (1)

Shamenaught (1341295) | about 6 years ago | (#24531811)

Well, if this is edible, then the natural way to combine it with geeks is to infuse it with caffeine. I can see the advert now. Lan party going on too long? Need that extra hit of caffiene? Out of energy drinks, and even caffeinated mints? Now, you can get that kick you need, by eating your own shirt! Some geeks have needed biochemically active clothing for a while though. Not for eating, but to tell them when they're 'done' and it's time to change. I doubt it would sell as well, but if you figured-out some way to hook it up to a power source and make it wash itself: You've got a best-seller.
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