I've put in a request for a copy of the article, but just on the basis of the press release, I think we have a new bit of buzzworthy jargon coming down the road. Georgia Tech researcher Kenneth Sandhage and his team have come up with a method to apply biological processes to the manufacture of non-biological microdevices. The release then says:
This study's newly invented approaches for the low-cost mass production of micro-devices could yield unprecedented breakthroughs in genetically engineered microdevices (GEMs) for biomedical, computing, environmental cleanup, defense and numerous other applications.
Genetically engineered microdevices -- you know we're going to be hearing more about these.
Thanks again Jamais -- you provided that bit of inspiration I needed to continue on my day.
Looking at what's on the Web, I think they are still in the process of patenting what they've discovered so far. Maybe that's why they've been quiet since the press releases in September.
It looks like a big step forward for MEMS manufacture. The idea appears to be that empty diatom shells can be chemically altered--without changing their shape--to make them suitable as parts in microelectromechanical systems. We might be able to "dope" them just as we do conventional semiconductors. Because diatoms can grow these shells cheaply, it might give us parts we can use in MEMS without having to blow them into silicon with conventional photolith.
This is fearsomely clever if it works!
Maybe it also gives us a lever to change the shape fo the diatom shells too. Perhaps we could tweak the genes of the diatoms to give use different shapes.