Poplar Science: Custom Proteins Drawn from Genetically Engineered Trees Expand Silicon Chips’ Memory Capacity

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In the future, we won’t need rare-earth elements to make powerful computers. We can use poplar trees. Engineers in Israel have figured out how to use protein molecules from poplars to improve computer memory. The technique uses silica nanoparticles combined with poplar proteins, according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The nano-poplar approach marks a new way to miniaturize memory elements while also increasing capacity, according to a university news release. The findings were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The technology involves genetically engineering poplar proteins so they can hybridize with the silica nanoparticles. The nanoparticles attach to the inner pore of the protein, and the poplar pores are arranged in an array of molecular memory elements.

The research team, led by Prof. Danny Porath at the Institute of Chemistry at Hebrew University, found the memory elements can carry out stable computing activity. They hope the technology can provide an alternative to current computer memory fabrication processes.