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The fusion of nano- and bio-technologies is now creating multidisciplinary research fields concerned with materials science and biophysics at nanometer, molecular and cellular levels.
The research of the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics in this field focuses on the development of novel nanostructured dynamic bioelectronic -interfaces that can interact specifically with biological systems and accurately turn on biological processes, such as neuron activation or healing. Precision-engineering of such hybrid bioelectronic devices must be designed and constructed at the nano or molecular level in order to minimize non-specific interactions that lead to uncontrolled responses. The target objective of our research is to incorporate molecular triggers into these systems, in concert with the construction of appropriate porosities and physical features (nano-patterning) that control electrical, biophysical and biochemical properties, so that the nanostructured hybrid bioelectronic devices could control cellular or biochemical responses.
Our general aim is to develop bioelectronic systems which help the interfacing the biotic and abiotic world. In the 21st century this means connecting the biology to silicon-based materials in a way that they are able to sense changes (e.g. microarrays) and/or generate specific response (e.g. neuron activation or local drug delivery) in their bioenvironment.
To develop various microarray platforms capable of the high sensitivity electronic detection of multiple analytes using smart hydrogels based on PEG grafted polyelectrolytes and polyaminoacids.
To construct a nano-micro array with nanospots microns apart for studying the statistics of single molecule processes under well-defined conditions.
To create and study the “artificial synapse” using electro-active nano- and microparticulate drug delivery systems. (See Figure 1.)
To realize neural networks with controlled topology using ITO based microelectrode arrays and to study their performance.
To develop an electrochemical platform for the production of co-cultures of cells in a defined geometry towards tissue engineering applications (e.g. cell-sheet engineering).
Interfacing the abiotic and biotic worlds will be clearly one of the most important subjects of research during the next decades. It means the creation of a device which has a dynamic interaction with the biological environment meaning that it is capable of sensing the environment and providing suitable response to the observed changes. Such a device could be of immediate use in creating semiconductor based microarrays for early disease diagnostics, for understanding fundamental questions in neuroscience, and in the engineering of 3D tissues. The use of bioelectronics also allows us to dream a miniature biochip achieving various functions of a hospital and providing optimal medical treatments for individuals by analyzing and manipulating cells and biomolecules.
Example for the dynamic interfacing the abiotic and biotic world with the help of micro/nanostructured surfaces: A neuron is immobilized on top of a transparent indium-tin-oxide microelectrode array which is coated with a biocompatible polyelectrolyte-hydrogel matrix. The matrix contains drug-loaded nanoparticles that can be released upon electrostatic stimulus. The electrical response of the neuron is recorded simultaneously.
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