Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel are casting silver nanowores for potential use in biosensors and high tech circuitry. The discrete and uniform nanowires are the first to have ever been synthesized and it has been done via a combination of biology and inorganic chemistry.
The team found that the beta-amyloid protein fibrils that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer's patients form hollow tubes nanometres in diameter and a few microns long. They formed the silver nanowires by placing these peptides in a solution of silver ions that was reduced to elemental silver. The tubes then became filled with silver and once the peptide tubes were dissolved with an enzyme, the silver nanowires remained.
They now plan to to cast other conducting, semiconducting and magnetic materials into nanorods and nanowires using peptide nanotubes. These tubes will then be used in nanoelectronic, nanophotonic and microelectromechanical systems.