A research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has created an electronic microsystem that intelligently responds to input without external power. like a self-governing being Microsystems are built on new electronic devices capable of processing ultralow electronic signals and incorporating new devices that generate electricity. “from thin air”; from the surrounding environment
The groundbreaking research was published June 7, 2021, in the journal nature communication.
Jun Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and assistant professor of biomedical engineering led the research with Derek R. Lovley, a professor of microbiology.
The two key components of the microsystem are made up of nanowire proteins. which is a “green” electronic material produced by microorganisms that recirculate without causing Research highlights the potential of future environmentally friendly electronic devices made from sustainable biomaterials that are amenable to interactions with the human body and a wide range of environments.
This groundbreaking project is producing “Sustainable Intelligent Microsystems,” according to US Army Research Laboratories. to develop combat capabilities which funded research
Tianda Fu, a graduate student in Yao’s group, is the lead author. “It’s an exciting start to explore the possibilities of feature combinations. ‘Living’ with electronic devices I am looking forward to developing the next version,” Fu said.
This project represents the ongoing evolution of the latest research by the team. Previously, the research team discovered that electricity can be generated from ambient/humidity environments with protein-nanowire (or ‘Air-) air generators. Gen’), which is a device that continuously generates electricity in almost any environment found on Earth. Air-Gen invention is reported in nature in 2020
In addition, in 2020, Yao’s lab also reported in nature communication that protein nanowires can be used to create electronic devices called memristors that can mimic the brain’s calculations and work on ultralow electrical signals that match the amplitude of biological signals.
“Now we combine the two,” Yao said of the creation. “We built an Air-Gen powered microsystem to drive sensors and circuits built on protein-nanowire memristors. Microsystem electronics can now be powered by the environment to support sensing and computation without an external power source (such as batteries). It has sustainable energy and full intelligence. as well as self-independence in living beings.”
The system is made from an environmentally friendly biomaterial: protein nanofibers harvested from bacteria. Yao and Lovley developed Air-Gen from the Geobacter microorganism that Lovley discovered several years ago. which is then used to generate electricity from the humidity of the air and later created a memristor that could mimic human intelligence.
“So, from work and material,” Yao said, “we are making electronic systems more similar or alive.”
Albena Ivanisevic, biotronics program manager at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Research Laboratory, said: “This work shows that we can fabricate self-sustaining intelligent microsystems.” UMass demonstrated the use of artificial neurons in computation. It is particularly exciting that the nanowire memristor proteins show stability in an aqueous environment and continue to function. The additional functionality not only promises to increase stability. But it also expands the utility for new sensors and communication formats that are important to the military.”
Reference: “Self-sustaining green neuromorphic interface” by Tianda Fu, Xiaomeng Liu, Shuai Fu, Trevor Woodard, Hongyan Gao, Derek R. Lovley and Jun Yao, June 7, 2021. nature communication.