University of Tokyo researchers have used a bacterial protein to encase cadmium sulfite nanoparticles. When isolated, nanoparticles of cadmium sulfite emit light and are luminescent semiconductors. If combined, the nanoparticles are no longer luminescent.
The chaperonin protein is tubular in shape and the Japanese researchers have been able to use it to encase the nanoparticles and keep them apart.
The protein tubes release the nanoparticles when exposed to the biological fuel molecule ATP. This quenches the light. By utilising these properties it is hoped that a system for detecting various concentrations of ATP can be developed.
They are also hoping to influence the protein to capture and release various organic molecules. If successful, a system could be developed to turn the proteins into target drug delivery systems.