chapter  16

Protein-Based Optical Memories

WithJeffrey A. Stuart, Robert R. Birge, Mark P. Krebs, Xi Bangwei, William Tetley, Duane L. Marcy, Jeremy F. Koscielecki, Jason R. Hillebrecht

This chapter examines some proteins that respond to light can be used as the basis of device architectures, such as optical computer memories and holographic recording media. It focuses on bacteriorhodopsin, a photoactive protein with potential in optical and holographic computer memory architectures, and efforts to modify the protein for this specific goal. The chapter discusses the ability to modify bacteriorhodopsin has proven to be paramount to this protein’s usefulness to the applied sciences. Bacteriorhodopsin (BR) occupies a unique place in the history of protein-based applications—it is not only one of the more thoroughly examined proteins with respect to structure and function, it has also been evaluated for a number of device architectures. The regions of the cell membrane that contain bacteriorhodopsin have unique properties, and occur as discrete membrane patches consisting of approximately 75% BR and 25% lipid.