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    Scientists Create Silk Electronics

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    And now we go to Taiwan, where scientists have found that silk can be used to make electronic transistors. The discovery could lead to the development of flexible, super-fast electronic paper and touch screens.

    Scientists at Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University have come up with a way to use silk, made by silkworms, in electronics.

    Hwang Jenn-Chang and a group of doctoral students at the Materials Engineering lab at Tsing Hua University have discovered that silk can be used as an organic thin-film transistor for flexible electronics - such as e-paper, radio-frequency identification tags, and LED displays.

    According to the scientists, silk could become a flexible and low-cost material for the key components in electronic devices.

    The researchers boiled silkworm cocoons in a sodium chloride solution to extract proteins - or fibroin - then dissolved the proteins in phosphoric acid to produce liquid silk.

    The liquid silk forms a membrane which the researchers say can easily be made into insulators in transistors.

    Hwang says the team had experimented with both organic and inorganic materials, but discovered the advantages of silk within just a few trials.

    [Hwang Jenn-Chang, Materials Engineering Professor, Tsing Hua University]:
    "I think it's a gift from heaven. In late 2009, one of my students, Chung-Hwa, he proposed to use silk as an insulator for organic thin-film transistor, I think that was a good idea and we went for it."

    The government-funded project began in August 2009, and the team managed to stabilize the silk transistor's performance by March 2011.

    Hwang says the technology is not only environmentally friendly, but also has high performance.

    [...]

    Hwang is in the process of applying for patents worldwide, and expects his team's invention to reach consumers within three years.