Start-up To Use Genes To Build Better Chips

If start-up Cambrios is right, semiconductors and other computer parts won't be made in the future. They'll be bred. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is working with methods that will allow researchers to build semiconductors or other components by combining inorganic substances like cadmium sulfide with a vast library of genetically engineered organisms. Formerly known as Semzyme, Cambrios is officially unveiling its new name, strategies and venture backers this week. In the vast majority of situations, combining a metal with a living virus or bacteria won't result in a breakthrough, but occasionally the chemical interaction between the metal and a protein from the organism produces elegant--and potentially commercially attractive--films or crystals, said CEO Mike Knapp. A seashell, after all, is chalk that has reacted with specialized proteins.

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