Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Transistor Could Let Chips Interface With Living Systems

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the we-have-the-technology dept.

Biotech 72

An anonymous reader writes with a UW news item about a really neat new transistor design. From the release: "Human [sic, probably meant Electronic] devices, from light bulbs to iPods, send information using electrons. Human bodies and all other living things, on the other hand, send signals and perform work using ions or protons. Materials scientists at the University of Washington have built a novel transistor that uses protons, creating a key piece for devices that can communicate directly with living things. Among the many potential areas for application is that of prosthetic limbs." The paper's abstract is available, but the full paper is unfortunately paywalled. The Rolandi research group has a few other neat projects in related areas.

cancel ×

72 comments

Uses Protons... (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461178)

I'm really impressed that this new transistor uses protons.
I thought we were going to be stuck with protonless transistors forever.

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461216)

Hah, protons are so 3 minutes ago. I'm waiting for one that uses neutrons.

Re:Uses Protons... (1, Offtopic)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461248)

Yes, there is nothing I want interfacing with my body more than neutron radiation. :) (Well except girls, but let's be real here...)

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461522)

Maybe you could have both at the same time. [facebook.com]

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37464982)

More FUD Faggots, Next please.

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461274)

Bah, I'll be waiting for when they use quarks, with the surface being built of virtual particles.

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461402)

Quarks are boring.
I'm waiting for a transistor that uses LEPTONS.

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461436)

Pffft, get with the time dilation man. All the cool kids will have a high probability of using anti-neutrinos.

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

planimal (2454610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462970)

tachyons man, electricity gets to you before you knew you wanted it

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37471236)

I'm NOT waiting for one that uses tachyons. It signaled me before it was invented.

Re:Uses Protons... (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461510)

Wouldnt that be a normal transistor?

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461384)

Hah, protons are so 3 minutes ago. I'm waiting for one that uses neutrons.

I'm waiting for one using neurons.
Not mine, mind you... letting aside they are in small numbers, they are unusable even by me (need to have the wake-up coffee).

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37464124)

And then we can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and fix everything!

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#37467228)

Just don't cross the streams.

Re:Uses Protons... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461244)

Good thing you weren't negative about this.

Re:Uses Protons... (2)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461334)

My sarcasmometer is busted but: Yes smart guy, transistors currently contain protons. The difference is that, in this transistor, the protons are the "moving part", rather than electrons (and electron holes).

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461496)

rather than electrons (and electron holes)

Interesting. Is that similar to how there are Donuts and Donut "Holes"? However, an electron is in itself a spherical particle, which already makes it the Donut Hole.

Confused here. Please explain.

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461554)

The donut is the famous Ring Electron [blackholeformulas.com]

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461666)

A electron hole is simply the absence of an electron in a place where one is allowed, sort of like an egg carton that is one egg short of being full. It behaves sort of like a postively charged particle and, under an electric field, can conduct positive charge.

N-type (electron) and P-type (electron hole) semiconductors are the complementary parts of CMOS circuit design used in virtually all digital electronics today.

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461892)

A "hole" is where the electron goes: an atom that can accept an electron.

Re:Uses Protons... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37463934)

A "hole" is where the electron goes: an atom that can accept an electron.

And that's how babies are made...

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37463274)

They used to think electricity was flowing the other way, but they were instead watching the holes rather than the electrons.

Look up the hole theory, probably under electrons.

Re:Uses Protons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37465486)

An electron "Hole" is a point in a semiconductor lattice (Silicon, in most cases) where an electron would be under normal circumstances, but is not. Holes are made by adding "dopants" from group 3 on the periodic table to silicon (Group 4). Because group 3 atoms have fewer electrons than group 4 atoms, they introduce a "hole" to the silicon lattice, and the "hole" can be moved around to carry charge.

Does "proton" have another meaning? (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461228)

Because I always thought protons were the positively charged particles in the nucleus of an atom.

This article is clearly talking about something else... so either the article is using the wrong word or else proton has another meaning of which I was previously unaware.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (3, Insightful)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461292)

No, you're right. Now, what do you get if you take a hydrogen atom, and ionize it?

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (2)

n5vb (587569) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461548)

Acid-base chemistry is based on proton and hydroxyl (OH) ion exchange. Protons are also known as hydrogen nuclei, and in a lot of wet chemistry where nuclei and electrons interact on a more or less constant basis, they're interchangeable for most practical conceptual purposes.

I'm pretty sure, however, that the article was concentrating more on ionic transfer than on protons, specifically. A lot of ion flow through cell walls is heavier alkali metals like sodium and potassium. Communicating with *neurons*, in particular, is mostly activation and deactivation of surface proteins that open and close those ion channels. So .. maybe they can interact by altering the ion balance? Bit lost on the theory there ..

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37463320)

Your definition of acid-base chemistry is most frequently referred to as "Arrhenius theory". That theory was refined in 1923 by Bronsted-Lowry acid-base theory, which is based on proton (H+) donors and acceptors. However, both of these theories fail to describe & accommodate Lewis acids and bases [wikimedia.org] , which are defined as "an electron pair acceptor" and "an electron pair donor", respectively. The Bronsted-Lowry and Lewis theories are related, but distinct.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461772)

Okay... but how do you "conduct" protons? I mean, it was my understanding that you can't just move them around like electrons because they are several orders of magnitude heavier. If you were to use a negative charge to try to attract protons, the positive charge of the protons would pull the electrons to it before the proton had moved even one 2000th of the same distance towards the electrons. If you use a positive charge to repel photons, you will simply attract electrons towards your other positive charge, reducing the amount of push that you can exert on the protons you intended to push.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462238)

Like everything else in biology, usually complex proteins. Let Me Wiki That For You [wikipedia.org] . (Although this technology seems quite different, I believe the basic idea is still the same.)

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37464040)

Wiki was unhelpful. Please explain to me how they actually know that the protons are genuinely moving and it's not simply negative charges that are moving in the opposite direction. It's not like they can actually see the protons moving around.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#37465972)

You can show actual proton transport by, say, a proton pump protein in a membrane. Just put some 3H+ on one side and watch for it being pumped to the other. The mechanism is not just attraction between positive and negative charges, the mechanism is active - so you spend ATP to pump protons against a gradient of the electrochemical potential, usually by funneling them between a series of binding sites.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 2 years ago | (#37474692)

Look at the picture! The device has source, drain, and a channel bridge which is presumably sensitive to the concentration of H+ ions in the surrounding solution.

How it probably works is that the resistance of the device varies with the concentration.

So you can build an amplifier stage (e.g. drain follower) which varies a voltage across a load in response to the signal encoded in the proton concentration.

Disclaimer: all of this is a wild guess. As always, the devil is in the details.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461798)

Alpha Radiation.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462254)

Alpha radiation in a deuterium nucleus--2 protons and 2 neutrons--not a lone proton.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37462404)

That's helium, not deuterium. Deuterium has only one proton and 1 neutron. But yeah, ionising hydrogen still doesn't give you alpha particles.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (2)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462756)

Damnit. I knew that; stupid fingers. Where is it written that, every time you correct someone, you will make an obvious and stupid error?

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37465978)

Muphry's Law.

Seriously.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

UnresolvedExternal (665288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37466786)

Muphry's Law? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37469788)

If it has two protons, isn't that helium? I thought we were talking about Hydrogen.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (3, Informative)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461374)

First author Chao Zhong, a UW postdoctoral researcher, and second author Yingxin Deng, a UW graduate student, discovered that this form of chitosan works remarkably well at moving protons. The chitosan absorbs water and forms many hydrogen bonds; protons are then able to hop from one hydrogen bond to the next.

No, they mean protons.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461520)

A proton is a H+ atom... i.e. ionized Hydrogen atom.
The nucleus is usually made up of protons and neutrons, but in the special case of H+, it has 1 proton and 0 neutrons in its nucleus.

Re:Does "proton" have another meaning? (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461540)

Well, fsck me.. until I read your post, I thought the summary read "photons"...!

We are Borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461260)

For real...

Resistance is futile. We will be assimilated.

(Where is the queue / where can I sign up?)

In Soviet Russia (0)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461262)

Transistor interface with the DEAD!

At Least He Didn't Say It Uses Prions (0)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461276)

Or we'd be looking at the Mad Cowchip.

That's what I was missing! (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461288)

I could never figure out why my antimatter chips always, er, failed after being implanted in living hosts.

Re:That's what I was missing! (3, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462048)

Well duh, Positronic Brains are for robots, not people!

Re:That's what I was missing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37462196)

>>Well duh, Positronic Brains are for robots, not people!

Tell that to Sarin Industries.

Just after DX: Human Revolution... (1)

Mikachu (972457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461322)

I'll hold out for the social enhancement chip. Could use some pheromones right about now...

Re:Just after DX: Human Revolution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461404)

pheromones?

I never asked for this.

Re:Just after DX: Human Revolution... (1)

Kulfaangaren! (1294552) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461966)

Where do I sign up for my weekly dose of Neuropozyne(TM), I NEED some serious hacking upgrades!

Re:Just after DX: Human Revolution... (1)

slserpent (898476) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462874)

My vision will be augmented.

Re:Just after DX: Human Revolution... (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37463996)

My vision will be augmented.

So you can see that you're really a slim attractive man-furry living in WoW for a monthly fee that your mom pays because she thinks it's for Psychotherapy.

Damn Mechanists Will Never See the Light! (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461338)

Don't they understand the benefit of the Shaper's ancient gene lines that have been finely tuned over the centuries? Why must these wireheaded mechanists defile themselves with these electro-mechanical devices? /Schismatrix

Re:Damn Mechanists Will Never See the Light! (2)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461452)

Why must these wireheaded mechanists defile themselves with these electro-mechanical devices?

That's what I said! But my girlfriend insists they offer a better experience....

Ive been hacked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461446)

Brings an all new meaning to I've been hacked.

Re:Ive been hacked! (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37468952)

The old version, involving an axe, was getting stale.

How does it help? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461484)

How does it help to interface with living organisms? My initial impression is that it would be much easier to have the prosthetic implemented using conventional electronics, and have an interface adapter on the boundary with living tissue - sounds like that would be much easier.

And isn't the main problem with prosthetic limbs making them nimble and accurate enough, both mechanically and in terms of interpreting nerve signals?

Re:How does it help? (1)

Alyred (667815) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461538)

Yeah, I guess it boils down to if there is a feasible way to make a converter -- electrons on one end, protons on the other. Otherwise, this could boil down into a new field altogether.. protonics?

Re:How does it help? (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461584)

Wrt your sig.. you know there are the same options in earlier versions of Windows, right? That does look slightly more convenient, but right after I tick those boxes I'd be disabling the fucking massive toolbar.

Re:How does it help? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461668)

Yes, of course I do know. It's pretty funny having to observe people trying to locate them in the murky depths of Explorer's settings dialog in existing versions, though.

You can't disable the ribbon in Win8 explorer, but you can minimize it (which still keeps it useful as it'll pop out when you click on a tab). And yes, it's certainly much more convenient when minimized, leaving more room for file listing.

Re:How does it help? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461636)

That's the point: this is a step towards fixing the problem of interpreting nerve signals.

Re:How does it help? (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37462760)

My initial impression is that it would be much easier to have the prosthetic implemented using conventional electronics, and have an interface adapter on the boundary with living tissue - sounds like that would be much easier.

“So there’s always this issue, a challenge, at the interface – how does an electronic signal translate into an ionic signal, or vice versa?” said lead author Marco Rolandi, a UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “We found a biomaterial that is very good at conducting protons, and allows the potential to interface with living systems.”

Sounds like "what would be easier" is, in fact, the problem they just solved...

Re:How does it help? (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37463028)

Last I heard, the problem is that when electrodes are implanted in neural tissue, the neural tissue surrounding the electrode dies in a few years.

Estimation (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461530)

So how long do you think it will be until we have augmentations? I call first dibs on the Typhoon System!

So, the protons can pass through the hydrated (1)

spads (1095039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461620)

chitosan matrix, but what is the gate?

Extra charge? (1)

Saib0t (204692) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461738)

May sound stupid, but where does the extra charge go? If the device receives an electron on one side and sends a positively charge thing on the other side (a proton or K+), that leaves 2 electrons in the device, where do those go?

Re:Extra charge? (2)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37461958)

The extra charge is placed into an escrow account and is then divided up to help pay for much needed social services.

Proteins maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37461752)

What an awful summary.

does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37463696)

we're all going to be walking around with elbow swords soon?

Host rejection will be a hurdle. (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37463770)

If one can get past the hurdle of host rejection, this could be an amazing boon for humanity. Imagine a neurological interface with computers, or a network? New generations of smart fighter jets, weapons, an assortment of cybernetic enhancements, it's literally science fiction taking a hold of real life. Couple neurological interface with a super computer array and a vast library, and see what kind of innovations we can come up. Imagine new sensor inputs for our minds to study, imagine seeing radio waves for example. How about nanobots and genetics? We could interface with diagnostic and research nanobots who could help re-engineer our genetic codes to eliminate even aging.

Sort of like ... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37464092)

... installing an OnStar in your brain?

You'll get cheaper insurance if you do. Just don't think about the remote disable feature.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...