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October 26th, 2007
IMEC research explores the chip/cell interface
A continuing research program at the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium, is exploring the unknown land at the intersection of nanoelectronics and bioelectronics. Going far beyond conventional probing of living systems with macro-scale needles, the program is exploring direct electrical, mechanical, and chemical interfaces between living cells and operating integrated circuits. Last week, two research-group leaders from that organization described their work at the IMEC annual research review meeting.
One key program, described by group leader Carmen Bartic, is to develop in effect an artificial synapse: a direct interface between the interconnect points on a living neuron cell and sensors and receptors on the surface of an IC. The first step in this process, according to Bartic, is to develop the biochemistry to fabricate a surface coating for an IC that will help a cell live in extended contact with the chip. Today, IMEC is keeping cells alive and interacting with ICs for as long as several weeks, she said.
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