The integration of molecular biology and the micro- nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) for constructing hybrid devices has undergone rapid development worldwide. Professor Zhao Ya-Pu’s research group has successfully fabricated a nanomechanical devices based on light-driven proton pumps in collaboration with a research group in Inst. of Electrical Engineering, CAS, and the paper has been published in “Nanotechnology 17 (2006) 1778–1785” (SCI IF=3.322).
Bacteriorhodopsin (bR) is one of the most promising biomaterials for energy conversion, and can be used to construct bR-based devices. In this work, a layer-by-layer method based on the self-assembly technique is used to assemble biotinylated purple membrane on the gold surface and the Si3N4 surface of a microcantilever, respectively, to construct a hybrid device (Fig. 1). When switching the visible light on and off, the microcantilever coated with the purple membrane undergoes controllable and reversible bending (Fig. 2). From the control experiments, it can be seen that the nanomechanical deflection is caused by the electric potential induced by the protons transported by bR from the electrolyte buffer to the interface between the microcantilever surface and the purple membrane. Therefore, by integrating MEMS/NEMS with a nano-biomolecularmachine, bR, the molecularmachine-based bioactuator can simulate the natural machinery in directly converting solar energy into mechanical energy. This will impact many areas, and offer new potential applications in the future.