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Printing With Enzymes

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the very-small-writing-on-the-wall dept.

Science 43

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at Duke University have developed a new printing technique using catalysts to create microdevices such as labs-on-a-chip. Their inkless printing technique uses enzymes from E. coli bacteria and has an accuracy of less than 2 nanometers. While they're are now using enzymes to stamp nanopatterns without ink, the research team is already working with non-enzymatic catalysts. And it added that 'future versions of the inkless technique could be used to build complex nanoscale devices with unprecedented precision.'"

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Least accuracy? (1, Informative)

melonman (608440) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814051)

Shouldn't that be "resolution of less than 2 nanometers", or maybe "accuracy better than 2 nanometers"?

Re:Least accuracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20815761)

No, it should be a precision of under 2 nm. Precision and Accuracy are two different things.

Re:Least accuracy? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20820005)

No, as the other poster mentioned, it should be "precision" of less than 2nm. "Resolution" would have to be a lot smaller than 2nm to achieve the same accuracy and precision.

To the Roland haters. (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814101)

I was one of them. But since Roland is no longer linking to his own blog, I have no problem with him. Quite honestly, the majority of his submissions are better than the majority of the other submissions. I am not sure what is up with the vendetta any more.

Re:To the Roland haters. (0, Offtopic)

berashith (222128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814147)

except that this one links to something with his name in the banner. I guess people using slashdot as advertising space for themselves is fine, as long as it is transparent.

Re:To the Roland haters. (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814213)

Yeah... if you click on his name. If you click on the article link you do not go to his blog.

Re:To the Roland haters. (0, Offtopic)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814293)

But it's fun, you have to admit it. The 'ohnoitsroland' tag has become another beowulf cluster joke :) I've tagged one of his stories that way, too.

Re:To the Roland haters. (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20815977)

What's the fun? I'm seriously asking, this constant hammering of Roland's stories makes no sense to me at all.

Re:To the Roland haters. (2, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#20816449)


I guess it's just because he keeps summerising articles, adding nothing, introducing errors or misunderstandings, all for the purpose of interposing his ads and site-stat boosting in between us and the original article. ohnoitsroland is my favourite tag ever and I consider it a service to us all if someone can get a link to the original article in quickly near the top of the comments.

Re:To the Roland haters. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825581)

Except he's not doing that any more. He's just posting the article, like any other submitter. The fact that you *can* visit his blog isn't relevant, since you are no longer *forced* to go through his blog to get to the article.

The time for forgiveness is now. Do you really want to be the kind of person that holds a grudge across generations? I mean, I guess you could star in your very own Shakespearian tragedy, but those all seem to end with fake-poisoning followed by being stabbed, or stabbing followed by real-poisoning.

If Microsoft themselves switched entirely to open source, and turned over their patents and copyrights to the FSF, you'd probably still rail against them and boycott them because they used to be so aggressively proprietary. Which, ironically, is one reason they won't ever do that: Because of that attitude, there's only unlimited downside potential and zero upside potential at all.

He stopped doing the thing-that-we-hate. And the articles he points out are still interesting enough to get through the firehose gauntlet. So stop complaining about things he used to do. If you have a current grievance, let it be known.

Re:To the Roland haters. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826589)


If that's the case and remains the case, then good - all is forgiven. I would like to be out of date in my opinion and ohnoitsroland to become a friendly jibe. If his nefarious practices have stopped then so will my complaining, don't worry.

old news (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814121)

I swear Scientific American had an article on this a few years ago. At least it's been over a year since I let my subscription lapse.

E coli (2, Funny)

heritage727 (693099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814225)

enzymes from E. coli bacteria

What implications does this have for the "my dog ate my homework" excuse?

Re:E coli (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814587)

They will be replaced with "my homework poisoned my family".

After my hard drive died.

Re:E coli (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 6 years ago | (#20816965)

Eschericha Coli on paper? Would the media be roll-fed? [wikipedia.org]

Reading the fine print (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#20818773)

EULA: By installing the software, you agree by the terms and conditions as laid out in this document.


The consumer opens the package to find no paperwork inside. The damn thing was written on a microdot!


C'mon now... (2, Funny)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814315)

Real Strogg printers use stroylent, not these watered-down human enzymes. [Quake4]

No, no, no, you've got it all wrong. (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 6 years ago | (#20819001)

Adam is the canvas, and Plasmids are the paint.

These chemists and engineers (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814359)

Do they moonlight at the local meat packing warehouse?

Something smells fishy (5, Insightful)

pesho (843750) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814395)

Yet another scientific story with big claims and little detail. 2nM accuracy sounds a little overstated. First the polyacrylamide gel is elastic. Second they are using fluorescence to see the pattern and this at the very best has resolution of about 300nM. Third they need to generate the pattern on the stamp first and there is no mention in the article what is the accuracy of that. They seem to assume that the accuracy is equal to the DNA diameter.

Re:Something smells fishy (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20815075)

^^ Mod this guy up. Exactly my thinking... it does seem suspicious for those exact reasons.

Doing a simple wiki search on soft lithography yields a resolution of ~30nm. So perhaps that is the limit of this little experiment?

the actual reference... (4, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20815585)

Yet another scientific story with big claims and little detail. 2nM accuracy sounds a little overstated.
Indeed. The news release misses the point of the paper somewhat.

The actual scientific paper appears to be this one:
Phillip W. Snyder, Matthew S. Johannes, Briana N. Vogen, Robert L. Clark, and Eric J. Toone, "Biocatalytic Microcontact Printing [acs.org] " J. Org. Chem., 72 (19), 7459 -7461, 2007 DOI: 10.1021/jo0711541 [doi.org]

Second they are using fluorescence to see the pattern and this at the very best has resolution of about 300nM.
They use confocal fluorescence which is, as you note, diffraction limited. However for the high-resolution study of the line-edges, they use Atomic Force Microscopy [wikipedia.org] which is of course much higher resolution. The AFM images they show, however, appear to have rather imperfect line-edges, with resolution of >200 nm. Actually, nowhere in the paper do they claim to have demonstrated 2 nm resolution. Rather, they point out in the introduction that their new technique, in principle, could allow higher-resolution printing that conventional soft lithography, because there is no diffusion of reagents in their technique. The news release focuses on this mention of a theoretical 2 nm resolution, rather than pointing out the actual accomplishment of the paper, which in the words of the authors is:

In conclusion, we have demonstrated the feasibility of biocatalytic lithography. Catalyst-mediated soft lithographic technique offers the advantage of lateral resolution controlled by the range of motion of the immobilized catalyst rather than by the diffusive properties of molecular inks. This feature should facilitate the implementation of strategies for stamping nanoscale features. Further examination of stamping parameters and the application of this methodology to nanolithography are underway, and we will report our results in due course.
So, in short, it's an important advancement but the authors are not claiming to have achieved the intended ultra-high-resolution yet. And, even without that optimistic resolution, the technique is interesting in its own right because it is a new way to control the nanoscale chemical patterning of surfaces.

Re:Something smells fishy (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 6 years ago | (#20816127)

For the explanation, look no further than: "Roland Piquepaille writes..."

Re:Something smells fishy (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20822135)

I am not contesting your overall knowledge on that area, but nanometer is nm, not nM (M is a SI prefixe, that stands for a 10^6 factor, m is an abreviation for meter). Your usage may be jargon of some knowledge area (or restricted to some geographical area), but is quite confusing.

Osama Bin Lexmark (2, Insightful)

packetmon (977047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814397)

Now all we need is for a printer company to get it wrong, and paper to be thrown into our reservoirs... (Water and the Bad E.Coli [montana.edu] )

  • "This isn't something you could do on a whim," Camper said. "The risk is low, but it's there." ... What would happen if a pathogen like the bad E. coli-known as the hamburger E. coli for the deaths it caused several years ago at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant-got into a water system and "interacted" with slime called biofilm? ... To put it a different way, what if colonies of harmless bacteria (called biofilms) that often dwell in water systems, like the bacteria that harmlessly inhabit the human gut, were to trap pathogens and shield them from disinfectants? Could the biofilms become reservoirs for disease? The question isn't a theoretical one. Last year an Ontario city had the bad E. coli (E. coli 0157:H7) in its municipal water system. The military is interested "big time" in what the Montana scientists are trying to develop, said Camper, which is why the MSU Center for Biofilm Engineering has applied for additional funds from the defense organization called DARPA.

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814547)

They use E. coli to grow the enzymes, rather than just douse the substrate with it... wait, what? paper?

You didn't bother trying to read this even one tiny bit before jumping on the first hysteria-inducing buzzword you recognized, did you?

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20816885)

Its all about incremental improvements,

10 years ago everyone thought all 'bacteria' were dangerous to one degree or another, about 5 years we found out that are 'good' bacteria, that they taste fruity and live in drinks and yoghurt's, so now we stay healthy by drinking 'good' bacteria.

2 Years ago everyone thought E. coli was dangerous under certain circumstances, luckily now we all know that there is 'good' E. coli and 'bad' E. coli, so we can avoid the 'bad' E. coli and not have to worry!.

Of course now that everything people don't understand has to be labelled 'good' or 'bad' for simplicity's sake, so anything that has negative effects under some (any/unlikely) circumstances, regardless of any other benefits is bad, hence (over a given period); radiation is bad, DDT is bad, vaccinations are bad, chocolate is bad, beer is bad, foreigners are bad, socialism is bad etc.. etc.. If something cannot be labelled good or bad then its far too confusing to be dealt with and can safely be ignored.

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814637)

all Ecoli are not the same, some strains are bad, some are good. The process has virtually no chance of causing any dangerous effects that were not already there from Ecoli strains in the wild. If it really concerns you that Ecoli of any strain got out, a number of safegaurds can and likely will be used. for example, a set of genes for key metabolic processes can be removed making the bacteria completely dependent on the special environment in the printers/labs etc.

To put it a different way, what if colonies of harmless bacteria (called biofilms) that often dwell in water systems, like the bacteria that harmlessly inhabit the human gut, were to trap pathogens and shield them from disinfectants?
biofilms are not simply harmless bacteria, biofilms are generally a large colony of bacteria working together to form what amounts to a bacteria-made protective environment. they can infact be the cause of serious disease because they are more resistant to changing environmental conditions than free living bacteria. the biofilms can be composed of harmful bacteria although harmful bacteria generally are capable of making their own biofilms without the assistance of "good bacteria"

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (1)

packetmon (977047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814875)

The problem with bacteria is its ability to adapt - look at the MRSA outbreaks of recent months [google.com] ... worth reading [wired.com]

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814991)

and this is why you don't put just one safegaurd... you put several in at once- they're going to have to be very creative in their adapting to break this one. then again in the case of these printers, the bacteria at no time actually get near them so it's a non-issue. besides, we already use bacteria to produces enzymes, polypeptides and the like- ask anyone who needs insulin now that we use bacteria to produce it instead of harvesting insulin from the dead. those new color-safe "bleaches" use enzymes derived from hyperthermophile bacteria too, your local water treatment plant also uses *tons* of bacteria to digest organic material. bacteria are EVERYWHERE and encountered on a daily basis so the fear factor here is due precisely to people not paying any attention to simple biology until someone starts the fear-mongering.

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20815325)

If it really concerns you that Ecoli of any strain got out, a number of safegaurds can and likely will be used. for example, a set of genes for key metabolic processes can be removed making the bacteria completely dependent on the special environment in the printers/labs etc.
Oh yeah, cause that worked so well with the velociraptors... - (Jurrassic Park reference for the confused)

Re:Osama Bin Lexmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20816001)

Insightful? This is a troll or bright 1st grader. This isn't even vaguely to do with the article.

This article was about possible circuit printing improvements.

Last I checked, I'm not worked about nanoscale limits on my printer dpi quality.

When's the last time someone pulled out an electron microscope to criticize the quality of your printed resume? Damn, the edges of his letters are off by +/-30 nanometres! Drop that one in the reject pile!

Sheesh, can't it go any faster?!?!? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814465)

> Researchers at Duke University have developed a new printing technique using catalysts
> to create microdevices such as labs-on-a-chip. Their inkless printing technique uses
> enzymes from E. coli bacteria and has an accuracy of less than 2 nanometers. While they're
> are now using enzymes to stamp nanopatterns without ink, the research team is already
> working with non-enzymatic catalysts. And it added that 'future versions of the inkless
> technique could be used to build complex nanoscale devices with unprecedented precision.

Man Show Boy: Boy, the transhumanist techno-rapture omega point sure is boring to actually sit through.

And the cost is... (4, Funny)

mc moss (1163007) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814481)

I bet a cartridge of enzymes would still be cheaper than ink that printer companies sell us.

Paper? (1)

avirrey (972127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20814931)

Really, come now... Is there anyone reading /. that still uses paper as a communiation medium? When I got my present office I told them to rip out all the file cabinets... "What is it with this archaic desk?" said I. Keyboard and chair is all I need.

Family pictures?? That's what a digital-picture frame is for, duh!

--
X's and O's for all my foes.

Dot's all! (2, Informative)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20815375)

They can create a dot (circular area) with a diameter of 2 nm. That is the area an enzyme dangling from a linker (tether) can reach. It is not that they can create anything other than a dot, not that they can put purposively 2 dots at a distance of 2 nm from each other, or that they can add material (such as a metal capable of functioning as a conductor) on the surface. Really nice experiment, but don't buy shares unless you're a long-term investor.

Bert

HmmE-Coli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20815595)

E-Coli....

Sounds like a load of shit to me

Memes (0, Offtopic)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20815711)

I for one welcome our mind reading computer overlords.

Gah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20816237)

Shall there be no limit to how small the fine print can be on a EULA!!!

A simple summary (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20817173)

What it appears they did is create a "field" of single-strand DNA "grass". Then they tethered an enzyme "cow" to a point in the field. The "cow" ate all the "grass" it could reach, creating a visible dot. Unfortunately, they do not yet know how to move the cow so it doesn't starve after that.

Available at Office Depot (1)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 6 years ago | (#20818193)

The printer costs $200. The printer cartridges cost $2 million dollars. :)

in other news... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20819393)

Stanford researchers have developed a much much sharper arrowhead for arrows (for use with a better long bow developed by Edinburgh Univ. engineers); an Isreali thinktank has applied the technique and developed a pencil that never needs sharpening; Fuji has purchased the patent rights to a new chemical bath process that makes monochrome film prints even glossier; and Kotex has released a much more reliable, silicon based IUD.

--
Any sufficiently outdated or irrelivant technology is indistnguishable from a paperweight (what is paper, again? Its like an old TV or something, right?).

Finally! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20821871)

I can get my name on a grain of rice!
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