Biopolymers Based Nanoelectronics

Claudio Nicolini

Department of Biophysical Sciences and Technologies University of Genova, Fondazione Elba and PNB-PST Elba, Corso Europa 30, I-16132 Genova, Italy


Ordered monolayers and multilayers of lipids, DNA, fatty acids and proteins, and processes of their interfacing with silicon, gold and other inorganic substrates, form the basis of molecular bioelectronics, a new emerging field at the crossing of molecular biology and submicron electronics with numerous electronic and biotechnological applications resulting from the above supramolecular architectures [1, 2]. Langmuir-Blodgett films of biopolymers confirmed their potential in providing unique properties in a wide range of applications from molecular recognition and actuation to information processing, from catalytic activity to electron transfer and DNA chip, because of their unique structural and functional stability to long storage, experimental manipulation and temperatures up to 200°C. Similarly their integration with conducting polymers and the introduction of new material such as fullerenes provided new excellent candidates for competitive electronic devices, namely batteries, photovoltaic cells, LED, sensors and transistors, making furthermore unequely flexible and stable wiring between active elements based on biological, organic or inorganic molecules. It is possible indeed to vary in a wide range the conductivity of these wires by just providing different dopping degree of the polymers. Incorporation of semiconductor inorganic nanoparticles into organic matrix results in the possibility to observe interesting quantum phenomena, such as single electron conductivity, at room temperature. Some properties of the formed structures are impossible to achieve with traditional electronic technology approaches. Few key examples of biopolymers-based nanoelectronics are summarized in the presentation.


[1] C. Nicolini, Thin Solid Films 284-285, 1-5 (1996).

[2] C. Nicolini, Molecular Bioelectronics. World Scientific Publishing, Singapore (1996).

[3] C. Nicolini (ed.), Biophysics of Electron Transfer and Molecular Bioelectronics. Plenum Press, New York (1999).