The impact of biomineralization processes on lithographic and microelectronic production processes has not yet been explored. As opposed to conventional industrial manufacturing, the biological synthesis of silica occurs under mild physiological conditions of low temperatures and pressures, with clear advantages in terms of cost-effectiveness, parallel production, and impact on the environment. The integration of nature-mimic biomineralization processes with micro- and nanofabrication will be a unique route to make them usable in the medium-long term for industrial application and production.
In particular, some peculiar proteins of sponges (silicateins) catalyse the reaction of silica polymerisation to give ordered structures. Besides this catalytic activity, when the proteins are assembled into mesoscopic filaments, they serve as scaffolds that spatially direct the synthesis of polysiloxanes over the surface of the protein filaments.
Hence, these biomolecules present the combined characteristics of:
(i) chemical action (catalysis) for the formation of silica, and
(ii) patterning action, by driving the silica on the surface of the filaments.
We plan to exploit this unique combination within a novel technology, whose demonstrator will be the realization of patterned, aligned assembly of silica fibres, and their employment as insulating layers for prototype transistor devices. Two parallel strategies will be pursued for the production of large amounts of silicatein: (i) expression of the recombinant proteins, and (ii) development of in vitro primmorph cultures. Soft lithography techniques will be used for the controlled patterned deposition of molecules. Specific approaches will be designed and implemented, for the hierarchical assembly of silicatein fibres into functional networks. The multidisciplinary team involved in this project has the know-how in biosilicification/lithography and the intellectual property rights in enzymatic silica formation.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
- /social sciences/economics and business/economics/production economics
- /social sciences/economics and business/business and management/employment
- FP6-NMP - Nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices: thematic priority 3 under the 'Focusing and integrating community research' of the 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area' specific programme 2002-2006.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project