Switching on a protein

A demonstration by researchers at Arizona State University shows that surprisingly a protein can be converted into an electrically conducting material. Stuart Lindsay and his colleagues tether molecules between electrodes in their quest to build a better microscope for biomedical research. The team's recognition tunneling technique is usually used for DNA sequencing but they tried the same approach with a complete protein in the hope of developing a label-free electronic reader for these biomolecules. However, they found that at sufficiently high voltage, the protein begins conducting as if it were a metal. For four years, they have attempted to disprove their own finding as ludicrous, but they have now published their definitive findings in the journal Nano Futures that show that despite the received wisdom, at least one protein can be made to conduct electricity like a metal.