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BENATURAL — Result In Brief

Project ID: 33256
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Greece

Peptide nanostructures to fabricate microchips

A European interdisciplinary approach explored the molecular arrangement, and the biochemical and biophysical properties of bio-nanostructures to form novel building blocks for a variety of applications.
Peptide nanostructures to fabricate microchips
Peptide fibres, nanotubes and other nanoscale assemblies are considered good candidates for a wide range of applications. They are easily and inexpensively formed under mild conditions, and their properties can be modulated by simple chemical modification or genetic engineering. Furthermore, some biological nano-assemblies have thermal and chemical stability allowing their integration into fabricated devices.

The key objective of the EU-funded project ‘Bioengineered nanomaterials for research and applications’ (Benatural) was to translate the self-assembling mechanism of natural nanomolecules into the construction of nanodevices.To achieve this, scientists had to understand how these mechanisms work – that is, the three-dimensional (3D) structure as well as the physical and chemical properties of the assembled structures.

As a first step, project partners designed constructs made of natural fibrous proteins and studied their 3D crystal structures. Using the techniques of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the ability of various aromatic and fibrous building blocks to self-assemble into nanostructures was studied. The morphological features, mechanical properties and chemical and thermal stability of these novel nanostructures were assessed using atomic force microscopy (AFM). The information generated was continually fed into the consortium to aid development of building blocks with ideal properties dependent on end application requirements.

The major achievement of the Benatural project was the manipulation of peptide self-assembled nanostructures by dielectrophoresis (DEP) to fabricate a field effect transistor (FET) microchip. This invention constituted a major step in the development of a FET using biological fibres, culminating in a United States patent. Furthermore, scientists optimised peptide nanotube conducting efficiency by filling it with silver and achieving an increase of 10 (power of 9) times in the current passing through.

Overall, the Benatural project demonstrated how natural nanomolecules can be assembled to construct nanodevices. The project deliverables will advance nanotechnology and significantly contribute to the competitive and sustainable production of new generation applications and devices across Europe.

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