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Scientists from the University of Leeds have taken a crucial step forward in bio-nanotechnology, a field that uses biology to develop new tools for science, technology and medicine.

The new study, published in print today in the journal Nano Letters, demonstrates how stable 'lipid membranes' – the thin 'skin' that surrounds all biological cells – can be applied to synthetic surfaces.

Importantly, the new technique can use these lipid membranes to 'draw' – akin to using them like a biological ink  – with a resolution of 6 nanometres (6 billionths of a meter), which is much smaller than scientists had previously thought was possible.

"This is smaller than the active elements of the most advanced silicon chips and promises the ability to position functional biological molecules – such as those involved in taste, smell, and other sensory roles – with high precision, to create novel hybrid bio-electronic devices," said Professor Steve Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and a co-author of the paper.

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