Start-up to use genes to build better chips

If start-up Cambrios is right, semiconductors and other computer parts in the future won't be built. They'll be bred.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is using methods that will allow researchers to build semiconductors or other components by combining inorganic substances like cadmium sulfide with a vast library of genetically engineered organisms. Formerly known as Semzyme, Cambrios is officially unveiling its new name, strategies and venture backers this week.

In the vast majority of situations, combining a metal with a living virus or bacteria won't result in a breakthrough, but occasionally the chemical interaction between the metal and a protein from the organism produces elegant--and potentially commercially attractive--films or crystals, said CEO Mike Knapp. A seashell, after all, is chalk that has reacted with specialized proteins. "This is the way evolution works. You try lots of stuff and see what works," he said. "Proteins can manipulate things. We wouldn't survive as humans if our proteins didn't manipulate things atom by atom."

News source: C|Net News.com

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