AMHERST, MA – A research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has developed an electronic microsystem that can intelligently, autonomously respond to information inputs without external energy.

The microsystem is made from new electronics that can process ultra-low electronic signals and generate electricity from the ambient environment. Two important components of the microsystem are made from protein nanowires produced from microbes without generating e-waste.

Research leaders were Jun Yao, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering and adjunct professor in biomedical engineering, and Derek R. Lovley, a distinguished professor in microbiology.

US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory is funding the research.

"We make microsystems in which the electricity from Air-Gen is used to drive sensors and circuits constructed from protein-nanowire memristors,” said Yao. “Now the electronic microsystem can get energy from the environment to support sensing and computation without the need of an external energy source (e.g., battery). It has full-energy self-sustainability and intelligence, just like the self-autonomy in a living organism."

"The work demonstrates that one can fabricate a self-sustained intelligent microsystem," said Albena Ivanisevic, the biotronics program manager at the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory. "The team from UMass has demonstrated the use of artificial neurons in computation. It is particularly exciting the protein nanowire memristors show stability in aqueous environment and are amenable to further functionalization. Additional functionalization not only promises to increase their stability but also expand their utility for sensor and novel communication modalities of importance to the Army."

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