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Active and Passive Electronic Components
Volume 2011, Article ID 586924, 7 pages
Research Article

Light Sensor Platform Based on the Integration of Bacteriorhodopsin with a Single Electron Transistor

1Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Multi-Scale Technologies Institute, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA
2Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Multi-Scale Technologies Institute, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA

Received 11 January 2011; Accepted 6 April 2011

Academic Editor: Abdelkarim Mercha

Copyright © 2011 Karl A. Walczak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper reports on the integration of an optical protein with single electron transistors to form a nano-bio-hybrid device for sensing. Bacteriorhodopsin (bR) is an optoelectric protein that translocates a proton across a distance of several nanometers in response to an absorbed photon of incident light. This charge gradient results in a measurable voltage in the dried state. Single electron transistors (SETs) have active regions consisting of one or more quantum islands with a size typically 10 nanometers or less. Integrating bacteriorhodopsin with the gate of a SET provides a device capable of a modulated electrical output in response to optical modulation at the device gate. Modulation of the optoelectric activity of the bR by chemical binding with a targeted environmental antigen can form a direct chemical-to-electrical sensor reducing the size and complexity of fluorescence-based systems. The work resulted in electrical resistance and capacitance characterization of purple membrane containing bR under variable illumination to ensure minimal impact on SET operation. Purple membrane containing bacteriorhodopsin was electrodeposited on the SET gates, and current throughput was well correlated with variable and cyclic illumination. It was confirmed that bR optoelectric activity is capable of driving SETs.