World’s smallest violin made with plant proteins!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Oftentimes, when I travel, I have to leave behind my beloved guitar. It’s a beautiful instrument, but the darn thing is just too big and bulky to carry around on top of all my luggage. I’ve considered picking up the ukelele or violin before as a travel buddy, since they are cute and portable. I think Josiah Zayner, who recently completed a PhD in biophysics at the University of Chicago, would be happy if I picked up the violin, because he’s created the world’s smallest one! He calls it… the chromochord.

It’s not your typical wooden-bodied violin with four strings and a horsetail bow, however. This musical instrument is made up of LOV proteins, which are light sensitive and commonly found in plants! They’re inside of 12 vials and each protein is specifically engineered to react differently to light. So, when a blue light is shined onto the vials, a special machine monitors how the proteins react and sends this data to special computer software, which then converts the information into sound! “It wasn’t easy to develop,” said Zayner. “But trust me, it’s much, much harder to play than it was to make.”

Though Zayner is still perfecting the chromochord, he is already working on another musical instrument that will use human cells to function! He launched a campaign to raise $20,000 for his latest project. What’s the point of engineering cells that can play music? “The idea, really, is to eventually culture my own cells,” he says. “So that I can be in a band with myself.” There you have it folks, he really wants to be a one-man band! Now, if he could only make the world’s smallest guitar…

Featured image and video courtesy of Chromocord.