To produce the electronics we use every day requires specialized nanofabrication processes to etch the correct structures into a material. Among the steps involved is developing materials called resists, and this requires toxic chemicals. Researchers at Tufts University may be changing that in the future though, as they have found that silk can be used as resists, and that water can develop it.
The fabrication process starts with a substrate that a resist is applied to, and currently that resist is a special polymer. Next a beam, either of light or an electron beam is used to place a pattern on the resist. The resist must then be developed, which may remove the patterned areas or keep them, depending on the situation, and this development requires toxic chemicals. If silk is used as a resist though, then only water is needed to develop it.
By replacing the toxic chemical with water, semiconductor and other nanofabrication complexes can reduce the amount of toxic waste they produce. This is definitely a benefit to those who work in clean rooms and the environments around them.
Source: Tufts University